Understanding our food’s makeup and origin, let alone how to prepare it, can be daunting! That often makes us lean on what we know, even if some great lean protein is left on the table—or in this case, in the sea. Seafoods like shrimp and salmon are good nourishment for our bodies and promote brain health through richness in omega-3s. That means they’re totally worth the effort, and you’re already smart just by eating them. Good news here: we did the research. Consider this your cheat sheet to take on your next grocery outing; it’ll bring some fresh new flavor into your diet, and prevent you from drowning in the sea of unknowns!
Guidance for Buying Shrimp
Tip #1: Read the Label
For the environment’s sake (and yours!), read the label. Knowing exactly where your shrimp comes from is key, like everything else you consume. Look for indications—something along the lines of a certification from an independent agency—that prove the shrimp has been raised and caught while protecting our beloved Mother Nature.
Tip #2: Quantity vs. Size Descriptors
This is a numbers game, people. Ambiguous size descriptors like “jumbo” are not your friend when it comes to selecting shrimp because it tells you very little. The quantity or count, however, does. The quantity is the number of shrimp required to reach one pound and from there you can deduce the size of the shrimp based on the amount sold. For example, a package containing 20 units is likely larger shrimp than a package the same size containing 30 units.
Tip #3: Frozen > Fresh
Chances are, even the “fresh” shrimp at the counter have been frozen at some point in their lifetime (for shipping purposes). Therefore, going straight for the frozen isn’t necessarily a negative. In fact, frozen shrimp retain their quality for several weeks, unlike fresh shrimp that last only a few days.
Tip #4: Inspect the Product
When it comes to buying shrimp, remember the wise words of Wiz Khalifa: “black and yellow”! You want to make sure there are no black spots on the shell, which would indicate a breakdown of the meat, and also no yellow shells, suggesting sodium bisulfite may have been used to combat black spots.
Guidance for Buying Salmon
Tip #1: Budget and Use
Your budget and the salmon recipe you intend to use will likely be the drivers behind what salmon you choose to purchase. There are many different varieties at many different price points. Consider the recipe you have selected and whether that salmon needs to stand up to grilling, canning, roasting, or smoking. Buy your salmon accordingly and use recipe suggestions as your guide.
Tip #2: Sight and Smell
Determining a fish’s freshness really comes down to using your eyes and nose. If it smells fishy, it’s fishy. You should smell nothing but saltwater for both salmon and shrimp in order to confirm its freshness. Also, look for a consistently vibrant color (no brown spots) and moist skin.
Tip #3: Wild vs. Farmed
For the same reason as shrimp, buying wild salmon appears to be more humane and environmentally sustainable than farmed. Some farming operations are notorious for their use of antibiotics and over-crowding. But not all farmed fish is questionable. This can be a very economical option, so do some extra digging into the farming practices before swearing off farmed fish completely.
Tips #4: Fresh, Frozen, or Canned?
Fresh isn’t always best. Actually, most fish is flash-frozen upon catch to preserve freshness at its peak and facilitate shipping. If choosing canned salmon, which is pretty economical, verify the cans are BPA free!
Shrimp & Salmon Recipes
Happy shopping! Here are a few tasty recipes to get you going, once you have the freshest catch.