Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Exception(al) Farmed Shrimp

I know, I know, we have gone over this before.  Beware of farmed shrimp.  Avoid the chemicals and cesspools that come with farmed shrimp and just buy wild shrimp.  I have written about this topic and sent high praise to BlackSalt's wild shrimp selection, while expounding vehemently on the disgusting conditions and product that most shrimp farming nations stock American grocery store shelves with.  But, and there is always a but, in the seafood industry there are always exceptions to the rule.  Not all wild fish populations are in trouble.  Not all fish farms are bad.  Cod in Iceland is in different standing than cod in Canada.  And, yes, not all shrimp are farmed equal.  If only buying seafood was as simple as a stoplight; red is stop, yellow is slow down, and green is go.  Unfortunately it is not.  I am here to help, though, and offer some light on a farmed shrimp that you can get behind and feel comfortable enjoying.  Meet the Madagascar prawn.

Now available at Blacks Bar and Kitchen and BlackSalt Fish Market is the farm raised Madagascar prawn.  It is big, tasty, and quite possibly one of the best eating shrimp available.  The prawns are grown in a sustainable manner in an area spread out over 700 hectares.  The Unima group, which produces the prawn (also known as gambas), are in collaboration with the WWF ensuring that the neighboring mangroves and habitat are preserved and that the shrimp farming operations work in harmony with the surrounding environment.  The shrimp are stocked 5 to 10 shrimp per square meter, which is a very low density comparatively, and are never fed meal that has medicinal or genetically modified additives.  Most of the shrimp's diet is provided by the natural environment, thus the shrimp are slower growing, developing naturally.  This difference is exalted in their exquisite flavor and superb texture.

Due to their uniform quality, superior flavor, and delightful texture,  Madagascar gambas have received France's Label Rouge, the only shrimp farm to do so.  The 'stress free' farming creates a natural tasting shrimp.  Unima's strict specifications are observed throughout the entire process, from broodstock, hatchery, to growth, harvest, and eventually shipping, the production is controlled with attention to detail and commitment to quality.  I mostly advocate buying only wild shrimp.  Madagascar prawns are the exception.  Their exceptional taste and quality is the exception to the rule and the reason why we are excited to get them in our kitchens and on your plate.  

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