Elephant Butte Lake

Elephant Butte Lake
Elephant Butte Lake

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Royal Red Shrimp Boil

Our first knowledge of this species of shrimp was from our friends Steve and Debbie McCormack from the blog Down the Road. As we traveled back to IL after our winter in AZ, we stopped in Waveland, MS. Steve and Debbie told us that we needed to find a restaurant that served "Reds". We have had shrimp before but they told us we REALLY needed to eat some of these while we were along the Gulf Coast. Royal Reds are a tastier species compared to the pink, white, and brown varieties. Not many folks have even heard of the Royal Red before the mid-90s, (I never had) but it has since grown to be very popular with locals and well-informed tourists along the Gulf Coast. Royal Red Shrimp can be identified by their large size, rich crimson color and their naturally salty and flavorful taste that has been compared to both Lobster and Bay Scallops. Royal Reds can be found all year long, However the Royal Red season runs from late summer through the end of fall. If you’re hungry for the freshest possible Royal Reds, try ordering them during the peak month of September.

Because they prefer sandy environments and cool temperatures, the Royal Red Shrimp live at distances that reach sixty miles from the Alabama shoreline and only a select few Gulf Coast fishermen are licensed to harvest Royal Reds, which are immediately frozen when they’re brought on board because of the distances that Royal Red shrimpers must travel. Royal Red Shrimp, whether bought from a distributor or ordered at a restaurant, may run a higher price because of their incomparable flavor and texture.

We ordered our first "Reds" at the Blind Tiger Restaurant in Bay St. Louis, MS just down the road from the Buccaneer SP where we were staying. The restaurant steams their Reds so we ordered a pound to share. These shrimp are large, rich texture and meaty and as Debbie told us....they have an almost buttery flavor even before dipping in drawn butter.. Ours already had the heads taken off. (This is important in a moment) We fell in love with these shrimp and had to have more on our way back to AZ this winter. So when we stopped in Gulf Shores, AL and stayed at Gulf SP we found another restaurant called The Steamer and Oyster Bar right off beach. We went in and ordered a pound of Royal Reds. This time when they waitress brought out the Reds.....They had their heads on.

We should have been prepared for that event but we never had shrimp that way before. Alright then...We rolled up our sleeves and dove into the shrimp. Pulling the heads off and the tails. Peeling the outer shell off and savoring the flavor as we chowed down.


We couldn't get enough. We knew that we wouldn't be near the gulf this winter so we found a seafood market near the park and ordered 2 pounds to take with us. The market flash freezes the shrimp and they come pre packaged in 1 pound bags. We hurried back to the rig and got them in the freezer and dreamed about when we could get our hands on this delicacy again while in AZ.

Last winter we made good friends with a Canadian couple, Ron and Patsy, who I 've spoken of before. They were going to be coming back to the RV park here in Gold Canyon a couple weeks after we arrived so we decided to introduce them to Royal Reds. They have a home in the park with more room than we have in the rig so once they got settled back in a their home we offered to share our cache of shrimp with them. We settled on a date to get together and brought our shrimp, salad and some wine to their home for a BOIL. Patsy made some fried rice and steamed asparagus. The other Reds we had, as I said, were steamed and we had never boiled shrimp ourselves before. So we cleaned up the shrimp and got them in the boiling water with a little seasoning.

We had done some research on how long to boil and what they should look like. We found that because they make their home in deeper waters than other Alabama Shrimps, Royal Reds have a natural saltiness to their taste, so you don't need to add a lot of extra salt to your other ingredients. Just make sure you’re careful about overcooking when dealing with Royal Reds; these Shrimp are naturally a pinkish color even when raw, and it only takes half the time to cook them compared to Pinks, Whites or Browns. We also found that boiling with the headed on, we should look for some white froth coming out around the head. Once we saw that we strained them and cooled them a little and got busy.

Watching a pot boil
 
Their done 

Finished product

Time to dig in
 

So delicious and so happy to share with our good friends from Canada. We had a great evening playing cards and a new board game called Sequence. We look forward to more dinners with our friends, games and of course, hiking. Oh and more Reds in the future. Guess we'll have to travel back to the gulf Coast again. I'm loving this retirement thing, for sure.



 
Here's looking at you kid.

5 comments:

  1. Thanks for the shout out! They are the best aren't they?! We also bought several pounds to eat on the way back to CA. As a matter of fact, we have our last pound that we will have with my brother next week. It's much colder here, but I enjoyed my hike in some snow today. Looking forward to getting back to the warmer AZ hiking though. Say hello to Glenda!

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    1. You're welcome....So glad you told us about them. We owe it all to you and Steve. Can't wait to get back that way again and taste some more. Had a great hike today to Picketpost Mtn. We only went half way today but if you go to the top it's a challenge hike. One to consider when you come to AZ. Also found a cache at the base of the mountain. That was fun. It's a little cooler this year than last year but I'll take it. Glenda says hello back. Enjoy your last pound of Reds. :-)

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  2. We've never had the opportunity to try Royal Reds, they look delicious. We have 2 pounds of shrimp in the freezer then it'll be all over till next winter.

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    1. Knowing you and Dave's taste for seafood, you would love them too. I'm sure the gulf shrimp you have taste yummy too. We've got to meet somewhere along the gulf coast some time next season/year and have some together.

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  3. I'm so jealous! I've been trapped up north away from these beauties for too many years now. I guess I'll just have to convince the hubby that we need to visit the folks. Yes, I'm talking about using the in-laws for an excuse to get at some of these - they are that good!

    Crystal Carson @ Tacky Jacks

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