Savour our shrimp while you can

Cynthia Stone
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If you follow stories about our fishing industry, then you know inshore shrimp harvesters are heading for trouble.

The first problem we can’t do much about — the stocks are not as robust as they were post-cod moratorium.

The second problem is that the federal government encouraged investment in boats and gear and is now pulling the rug out from under the little guys by cutting inshore quotas dramatically while leaving the offshore processing vessels to take the bulk of the harvest this year.

The government is claiming its last-in, first-out policy forces them to do this. What a pile of poop that is. It can still be fixed if enough of us say out loud that we don’t like where this is going.

I don’t pretend to understand the complexities of the industry but I know for sure our northern shrimp are superior to any caught on the planet, and it would be a tragedy to mismanage this fishery to the point that the next generation can’t enjoy them on their tables.

Our elected officials don’t listen to columnists like me but they have to listen to you. Tell them to get this right or we won’t need recipes like these for much longer.

Shrimp and Mashed Potatoes

This is a shameless rip off of that southern classic shrimp and grits. I love the original but this northern version is somehow familiar and so much homier, at least for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. If you love that cheesy flavour, feel free to add cheddar or Parmesan to the mashed potatoes, but I prefer to taste just the potatoes. You can even leave out the butter and cream if you like — some hot milk or chicken broth would be lighter and still darned delicious.

This makes six servings but everyone will go back for seconds, so be forewarned.

6 to 8 medium yellow-fleshed potatoes

1/4 cup butter or margarine

1/2 cup 18 per cent or coffee cream

2 tbsp. vegetable oil

8 strips thick-sliced bacon, diced

4 cups fresh sliced mushrooms, any variety you like

1 clove garlic, minced

2 lb. northern shrimp, raw, peeled and deveined

1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth

1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

1/4 to 1/2 tsp. hot pepper sauce, or to taste, optional

2 green onions, sliced

Peel potatoes and boil in salted water until tender, about 30 minutes. Drain. Microwave butter and cream until steaming hot and add to potatoes. Mash until smooth; cover and set aside.

While the potatoes are cooking, heat the oil in a large frying pan. Add bacon and cook until crisp. Remove bacon and set aside. Add mushrooms to pan and fry until they release their moisture and it evaporates and they turn golden brown. Add garlic and shrimp and cook until shrimp have lost just about all their pinkness — about a minute. Add broth and lemon juice and simmer together two or three minutes. Stir in hot pepper sauce.

Mound mashed potatoes on serving plates then use the bowl of a spoon to make lots of dips and divots. Pour shrimp over the top then sprinkle on the green onions and reserved cooked bacon.

Shrimp Curry in Tomato Yogurt Sauce

Shrimp is delicate and suffers if you overcook it, so this is necessarily a quick recipe. Have a pot of fragrant jasmine or basmati rice standing by so there’s no delay at the end.

Leaving on the tails makes for a pretty presentation but they are a little harder to eat with a fork, so it’s up to you. Personally, I don’t mind a little finger action when I’m digging into a plate of shrimp.

Invite four or five lucky people to your table to share this dish.

2 tbsp. vegetable oil, divided

1 thumb-sized piece fresh gingerroot, peeled and minced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tsp. each garam masala and ground turmeric

1 tsp. hot curry powder, or mild if you prefer

1-1/2 lbs. raw shrimp, raw, peeled and deveined with tails left on

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

2 large ripe tomatoes, diced

1/2 tsp. each salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup plain Greek-style yogurt

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Combine one tbsp. of the vegetable oil with gingerroot, garlic, garam masala, turmeric and curry powder. Stir in shrimp to coat thoroughly and refrigerate for half an hour or so.

Heat a large frying pan over medium-high and add the shrimp. Cook, stirring, until they are pink — don’t overcook them. Remove from pan and set aside.

Add remaining one tbsp. oil to the pan and add onion. Cook over high heat until onion is starting to wilt and take on a little colour. Add tomatoes, salt and pepper, cover and simmer together over medium heat, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes, until the tomatoes collapse and mixture is saucy.

Return shrimp to pan along with any juices they generated and the yogurt. Heat through but do not boil. Stir in cilantro and serve with lots of rice to soak up the sauce.

Cynthia Stone is a writer, editor and teacher in St. John’s. Questions may be sent to her c/o The Telegram, P.O. Box 86, St. John’s, NL,

A1E 4N1.

Organizations: The Telegram

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