Cheap Shrimp is Still Shrimp


People love shrimp. It is America’s most popular seafood, by far.

Fried shrimp. Shrimp scampi. Shrimp Cocktail. Shrimp is yummy.

This post about shrimp cocktail and how sometimes it makes me sad.

Shrimp cocktail is a throwback appetizer. When I was a kid, me and my brother would split a shrimp cocktail and drink Shirley Temples, while my parents sipped on 7 & 7’s. It was the height of sophistication there at the Red Lobster.

Shrimp cocktail isn’t as popular on menus these days, but it is a very easy appetizer to put on the food table for  home parties where it’s ridiculously popular. I’ve been to parties where the shrimp cocktail on the table is scarfed down so quickly, I feel reaching in would be harmful to my limbs.

But, if it’s the grocery store bought shrimp cocktail, the kind that is lined up side by side like usual-suspect shrimps in the plastic coral, I’m more worried about my soul than physical harm.

Folks, as noted chef Alton Brown would say, this is not “good eats.” The shrimp is bland, tasting more like water than shrimp. And unless you are using the shrimp as an excuse to eat cocktail sauce, I believe you can do better.

Now I get it. Not everyone can afford expensive and exquisite shrimp to make a fancy shrimp cocktail. And if they can afford it, many people don’t have the time to prepare it. But that doesn’t mean eating shrimp shouldn’t be joyful. I mean it’s shrimp. I want you to love it, not shove it down your gullet because you’re “supposed” to like it. So even if, for whatever reason, you grab a pack of frozen, perfect-packed shrimp, you don’t have to take exactly what they give you.

Do this. First off, I know the shrimp looks great all lined up, but this is about flavor. Take the shrimp out of the plastic and throw the plastic away. Gently dry the shrimp with paper towels dish towels. Then, season the shrimp with some seasoned salt and a little pepper. Or just use lemon pepper. Put the shrimp in a bowl. Eat the shrimp. Enjoy the shrimp. It may not be a-grade shrimp, but it will taste a million times better than straight out of the plastic. And when you make a food people already like better, you will be a hero. Oh, and look at you serving food in real dishes instead of the packaging you bought it in. I’m so proud!



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