The other day I was walking around my local Hannaford and was perusing the seafood counter. It was later at night, so the counter proper had closed for the day, but I poked around the freezer counter next to it and found the best shrimp in the Albany, NY / Cap Region area.
You heard me. Best. Shrimp. Ever.
I’ve been slightly disappointed by shrimp lately, and I wasn’t sure if it was shrimp in general, or just my tastebuds changing. Thankfully, it’s not me. It’s the shrimp.
I noticed the Nature’s Place bag of shrimp next to the regualar frozen shrimp for $8.50. I skeptically looked at the front of the packaging and read buzz words like “All Natural” and “Farm Raised”. Farm raised shrimp doesn’t really strike me as something all that great, but that’s just me.
I flipped the bag over and read the ingredients list. Shrimp. Salt. Shrimp and salt. No sulfites or other added preservatives like their other Hannaford brand frozen shrimp. I don’t like Hannaford’s other frozen shrimp because the preservatives in it give it an oddly rubbery and smooth texture, and the flavor is just bland and vaguely shrimpy.
I saw it was a product of Thailand, which I’ve heard is generally not that great from a sustainability standpoint (The Montery Bay Aquarium has great info on seafood sustainability, and a handy pocket guide).
But the call of minimally processed shrimp was too great to ignore at this point. I also looked at the “jumbo” shrimp that were treated with preservatives – they were smaller than these Nature’s Place shrimp! Bigger. Better…
“JUST TRY IT!!! IT’S SHRIMP WITH ONLY SALT! SHRIMP AND SALT! YOUR TWO FAVORITE THINGS IN THE WORLD!!” my inner voice shouted.
So I marched up to the register and bought it.
The shrimp were still frozen stiff when I got home, so I cooked them in boiling water. Now here’s a test. The shrimp with preservatives from Hannaford generally take an oddly long time to cook in boiling water (3-5 minutes) and just don’t taste that good. Weird texture thing, ya know?
These cooked up in about a minute or two. Keep in mind they’re larger, too. Once I got them out of the water, the first thing I noticed was the deep pink color, and how tightly the skins stuck to the shrimp itself. Then I noticed that there wasn’t really any shrinkage in the shrimp from raw to cooked. In my experience, the meat shrinks and the peels look loose on shrimp that has been processed, and the shrimp only get a pale pink color.
See? Hardly any shrinkage. Here’s a peeled shrimp on top of an unpeeled shrimp. Once cooked and peeled, it doesn’t lose much of its size.
Flavor-wise, it reminded me of the Royal Red shrimp I ate in Mississippi. It was shrimp like it should be. The texture and flavor were spot-on. The shrimp had a nice snap to it when bitten in to, and had a slightly sweet/briny flavor of the sea. There was no rubbery texture, and no questioning that you were eating shrimp. They were so good they didn’t even need melted butter. It would have been a great addition, but these shrimp tasted so perfectly like shrimp that I couldn’t bring myself to do it this first time. Next time, I’m bringing on the butter.
I know this is post is all “I love Hannaford and this brand of product” but I promise ya that this is just consumer love and goodness coming your way for an amazing product that I highly recommend trying if you’re as crazy about shrimp as I am.