published Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

Braly: Tips from the Shrimp Council

A recent study by the International Food Information Council revealed that more than 60 percent of Americans are more interested in hearing about what to eat than what not to eat. From “trans-fat free” to “no preservatives,” what not-to-eat phrases bombard us from graphics at the grocery store to television advertising campaigns.

So, the Shrimp Council, whose primary interest is to promote the consumption of shrimp, worked with more than a dozen health and nutrition organizations that recommend we eat seafood at least twice a week. That would average out to 39 pounds of seafood per person per year year. However, the average American eats just 16 pounds of fish and shellfish annually. Meanwhile, each of us typically eats more than 70 pounds of poultry and 110 pounds of red meat, according to information from the Shrimp Council.

Jennifer McGuire, a registered dietitian for the National Fisheries Institute, is a strong advocate of the consumption of seafood. It’s loaded with healthy nutrients like protein, B vitamins, iron, and omega-3s, yet free of excessive calories and fat, she noted.

So, to get more in your diet, here are some tips from the Shrimp Council.

* Buy shrimp in the shell for grilled shrimp to help lock in the moisture.

* Thaw in the refrigerator one full day before you plan to cook the shrimp. Place the container in the refrigerator on a low shelf. Let shrimp defrost slowly for about 24 hours in a container covered lightly with plastic wrap, then remove any liquid that has collected in the packaging or the container. Use within one day.

If you have less time and can closely watch the shrimp. Place shrimp in a leak-proof plastic bag (if it is not in one already.) Submerge shrimp in cold tap water and change the water every 30 minutes until the food has defrosted. Do not try to advance the process with warm water because the shrimp will begin to cook. Cook immediately after thawing.

* Cook shrimp till their texture changes from mushy to firm, the color turns from brownish-gray to a warm orangey-pink, and the meat becomes opaque. Shrimp are overcooked when they curl tightly inwards and the flesh becomes rubbery.

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