Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Get To The Hopper

Summer shrimping is a thing, if you didn't know, because some of the best tasting, sweetest, freshest shrimp can be had during the summer.  You've got white, brown, red, and pink shrimp seasons all opening at one time or another and there just isn't a better time of the year to get your fill of one of the nation's favorite seafood treat.  This week I would like to highlight the Florida Pink Shrimp, also known as Hoppers, Spots, or Key West Pinks.

Pink hopper shrimp are some of the best tasting and sweetest shrimp available, especially when fresh.  Most of the supply comes from Florida, where both the Atlantic and Gulf sides combine to produce about 80% of the nation's supply.  They do not have a distinct color, but are actually similar to chameleons in that they conform to match the color patterns of their surroundings.  This is the reason that they are known in Key West for their extremely pink shells; their color matches the corals found there.

Though their color can differ from location to location, a pink hopper can easily be identified by the spot it has located in the center of its body.  All hoppers have this spot, no matter if they're caught off the Dry Tortugas or hauled in at St. Joe's Bay.  Hoppers always cook to a beautiful pink color and have a distinctively sweet, saccharine flavor.  Their meats are firm and give a crisp snap when bitten into.  They are famous for making the best tasting peel n' eat shrimp.

The only drawback to this beautiful and delicious species is that it is often very difficult to get them delivered fresh, even during the season.  Most of these goodies get gobbled up in-state, so there is only a small amount of fresh product that makes it out of Florida.  We have managed to get a few pounds this week, so I suggest you "hop" on down to the market to get a taste of this delectable fare.

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