Bah humbug to fried shrimp!
Had to get that off my chest. Shrimp are not my favorite thing. They’re ok, I guess, but I just don’t get all the excitement around them. I guess they look exotic with their fancy tails and different preparations, but they always really taste the same to me. It’s just not my thing. I’ve never been much of a seafood fan and shrimp just seem to be part of that culture that never took to me. That’s just how it goes. I can usually avoid them and when I can’t, I just eat them. I’ve eaten worse and they never taste bad, just nothing to get excited about.
When I saw it was French Fried Shrimp Day, I knew that I would have to eat some today so I had to come to terms with that. I first had to clarify what French Fried Shrimp was because I know what a fried shrimp is, just wanted to make sure I knew what French frying was all about. Essentially, that’s just deep frying, so it was exactly what I thought. I had no desire to fry seafood at home because that would just bring an aroma to the kitchen that I was not ready for. Truth be told, I wanted to keep things low key today so I looked for an easy solution. A few weeks ago, on National Fritters Day, I was able to pick up some clam cakes in the middle of the afternoon from a place called Samantha’s Seafood which is right around the corner. I thought they would be the perfect spot and I also had to go to the Post Office which is right across the street from Samantha’s. Alas, they are closed during the week (only open on Thursday through Saturday during the winter) so my fried shrimp plan was spoiled. I did however manage to get to the post office and mailed out our annual holiday card and poem. That was a good feeling of accomplishment. We’ll see what people think of our work. This year’s poem may be a little too political for some.
I returned home downtrodden and still with the dilemma of where to get fried shrimp. I still wanted to keep it easy today so I started thinking about all the restaurants close to us and wondering if pizza places have fried shrimp. Then I realized that Chinese restaurants feature fried shrimp on their menus. I took out the menu from our local Chinese spot, New China, which we keep in a Trapper-Keeper folder with all our take out menus and there in the appetizer section was what I was looking for: Jumbo Fried Shrimp. I had a plan. Lola was not so much into this. She has been sick lately and the thought of fried shrimp just didn’t settle well with her. So I would be on my own. I placed the order and picked it up about ten minutes later.
The shrimp were packed into a wax paper bag and not the usual food box you would expect from a Chinese restaurant. I suppose that helps keep the shrimp warm and protects everything from the excess grease of the frying. They looked a little weird too. They were flat and oval shaped. In fact if they didn’t have the tails peeking out the back side, I’m not sure I would have guessed they were shrimp. They must butterfly the shrimp (cut them so they spread out to increase the cooking surface) and then pound them down a bit before adding them to the batter. They were nice and golden brown, so they nailed the cooking part, and they were still nice and hot. They included a very light duck sauce to go with it too, which I appreciated.
Honestly, these were not bad at all and I was surprised. Ok, so what I really liked about them was eating fried batter. That was the prevailing flavor. They were nice and crispy and every bite had some substance to it. The shrimp was good too. Not overcooked or rubbery and balanced out with the batter. It didn’t taste fishy, always a plus, and in fact, I’m not sure if the taste of the shrimp was even present. It really just tasted like good fried food. So despite my protests, I ended up enjoying this.
The aftermath however was not as enjoyable. My belly was hurting from eating all that fried food (I was expecting that), but the worse was the fried seafood smell that lingered long past the shrimp was gone. It arose almost minutes after I was finished. I had to move my plate and throw out the scraps. I lit a candle to help try to offset the smell. I washed the plates and while I was washing them, the smell kept coming. I ended up having to take the trash outside because the smell wouldn’t go away. That seemed to work, but it kind of put a damper on an already ominous fried shrimp day.
Shrimp and I are still trying to work out our relationship. It’s complicated. I don’t like them but they keep showing up on my plate and have to at least be civil in how I accept them. Maybe there is that best version of shrimp that I have not tasted yet that will change my mind (but I don’t think they’ll be fried in that scenario). We are working on it and someday, we will find some kind of harmony together. Today I celebrated the fine craft of French frying shrimp and was briefly and pleasantly surprised. So I learned about hope today; hope that someday I can learn to be a fan of those crazy little sea bugs that so many celebrate with such fervor. We can get there together.
Next Up: National Date Nut Bread