Sure we love our chips and salsa, but when it comes to healthy snacking, it’s important to check out the fresh foods sections of the market too. Certain areas, like the seafood counter, are often overlooked. Shrimp for snacking? You bet! We’re talking protein packed finger food at its finest. Of course, there are plenty of other great choices as well. That said, there’s so much information about seafood out there, it can be overwhelming. Here are a couple of quick facts from G-Free Foodie, K.C. Pomering, that’ll help you navigate the fish market successfully!
Shrimp: it’s all in the numbers. When you pick up a package of frozen shrimp or spy some in the grocery store cold case, you’ll see numbers with a slash to mark the size: 16/20 or 21/25, and so on. These numbers represent the “shrimp count,” or how many shrimp that size it takes to make up one pound. When you buy 1 pound of 16/20 count shrimp, you can expect to get 16 to 20 shrimp. Larger shrimp will sometimes carry a count number that reads U/10 or similar. The “U” stands for “under” – meaning it takes less than 10 shrimp that size to make up a pound.
A Shrimp by any other name: I often get asked if shrimp and prawns are the same thing. The answer is: No. Although both prawns and shrimp are crustaceans belonging to the Decapoda order, they are slightly different in the structure of their shells and the way they reproduce. The good news is, they cook and taste so similarly that you can easily substitute one for the other in recipes – that Prawn Scampi will totally work.
Salmon: born to be wild?: When you’re ready to dig in to some salmon sushi or a bagel with lox, you might want to give a little thought to how that salmon was raised, wild or farmed can make a big difference. Wild salmon is higher in iron, potassium and calcium, but lower in both sodium and calories (about 30%!). Wild salmon is usually deeper in color and in flavor, so folks who like a less “fishy” taste may prefer farmed salmon. Seafood Watch says salmon farmed in the US and all wild-caught salmon are ecologically sound choices, but most internationally farmed salmon should be avoided.
Imitation Crab: seafood’s hot dog. If you read the fine print on your California Roll or supermarket Krab Salad, you’ll find “crab stick” or “imitation crab” on the ingredient list. The Japanese name for crab stick is “surimi” – which means ground meat. That’s exactly what imitation crab is: various types of ground white fish blended with flour*, starch, flavorings and/or MSG, and with red dye added. Yummo! Restaurants and delis use crab stick because it’s cheaper, has a longer shelf life and is easier to mold than real crab – but now that you know the real deal, you may want to opt for that $5 upcharge for the fresh stuff.
*this means Imitation Crab is NOT Gluten Free
Interested in sustainable seafood choices? Check out the Seafood Watch site.