As arthropods go, shrimp are not the most luxurious or the most exotic of the phylum. Lobsters, crawfish, and crabs are raved about by their respective aficionados with rolling eyes and smacking lips; but although shrimp are probably eaten in larger quantities than their crustacean cousins, they seem to lack a worshipful cult. They are, however, extremely versatile, readily available, and not too expensive.
Most raw shrimp that you find at a grocery store or local fish market has been frozen at some point. Unless you’re lucky enough to live near a shrimp fishery, the shrimp you’re likely to bring home has been farmed somewhere far, far away, shipped to where you live in a block of ice, and thawed by your retailer. Fortunately, shrimp that is frozen properly (and prepared soon after thawing) loses very little in the way of flavor or texture.
That said . . . . shrimp that has never been frozen is better, and if you can get it, you should. There are some seafood markets that will ship fresh shrimp to you, and although it’s certainly more expensive than buying at the grocery store, it is still not outrageously expensive. In Pensacola, Florida, there is a place called Joe Patti’s Seafood, and they ship all kinds of seafood, including shrimp, and including a very special kind of shrimp: Royal Reds.
The Royal Red is a deep-water shrimp that is netted in the northwest Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico. Already pink when raw, this shrimp has a rich, almost lobster-like flavor, and a texture that borrows from the best of shrimp and lobster. They cook in about half the time of normal shrimp, so go easy on the heat.
Boiled Royal Red Shrimp
10 quarts water
2/3 cup white vinegar
2 tablespoons black peppercorns
1 tablespoon mustard seed
1 tablespoon celery seed
1 tablespoon coriander seed
1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
1/2 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
1/4 cup kosher salt
4 bay leaves
6 lbs Royal Red shrimp
Combine all ingredients except shrimp in large pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Raise heat to high to bring back to boil, add shrimp, stir for 2 minutes, then drain and serve.