International Boston Seafood Show 2007: Mantis Shrimp

March 17, 2007 in deep fry, Fish, ingredient, International Boston Seafood Show, Japanese, product, review, seafood

What is a [tag]Mantis Shrimp[/tag]?

Well, you are looking at three of them in the photo above. I was walking through the IBSS and came across some [tag]Southeast Asian[/tag] [tag]seafood[/tag] purveyors who had some interesting displays, this one included. These [tag]animal[/tag]s are much larger than most shrimp, you would likely need two hands to hold one of them. They tend to be about 30 cm (11.8 inches) in length but have been known to grow to 38 cm (15 inches).

While they are referred to as shrimp and are in the crustacea subphylum, they are not actually shrimp at all. Their name comes from the fact that they look like a cross between a [tag]praying mantis[/tag] ([tag]terrestrial[/tag]) and a shrimp. They are also much more intelligent and fierce than your average shrimp. Their odd looking [tag]appendage[/tag]s in the front are not just funky eye candy. No, the [tag]mantis[/tag] [tag]shrimp[/tag] can use these claws to attack prey and predator (including fishermen’s fingers), with great force.

Pet mantis shrimp are so tough they can even break through the double glass walls of an [tag]aquarium[/tag].

“A truly pugnacious stomatopod (ed: mantis shrimp) can threaten not only aquarium fish but also the aquarium itself. In 1998, a 4-inch mantis shrimp at the Sea Life Centre in Norfolk, England, shattered the quarter-inch-thick glass of its aquarium. The power puncher was promptly christened “Tyson.” ” Source = NWF

Yikes, this guy is not going to be added to any aquarium I have!

One other interesting fact about these curious sea creatures is that their eyes are the most [tag]complex eye structure[/tag]s known in nature. They are the only animals to have something called “hyperspectral color vision.”

“Mantis shrimp have the world’s most complex color vision system,” according to Justin Marshall of the University of Queensland. “These lowly crustaceans possess four times as many color receptors as humans, four of which sample the ultraviolet, a region of the spectrum to which we are blind.” Stomatopods also can see polarized light. Marshall believes that for a mantis shrimp, polarized vision may be as rich a sensory experience as color vision.” Source = NWF

Ok, one more neat fact and then I will get on the the meat of the matter. These mantis shrimp are not only wily and throw their back into their battles, they are able to create balls of fire in their [tag]claw[/tag]s. Remember I said they can break an aquarium wall? Well, with those fierce claws, they can flick them out to attack their prey or tormentor. When the claw is flicked out, a “[tag]cavitation bubble[/tag]” forms (a void that is left behind by the rapid displacement of the claw). Things on this micro-scale (and nano-scale) are non-intuitive for us. We would not expect that this cavitation bubble would flash with light, heat as hot as the surface of the sun, and pop to produce sonic wavefronts that travel away from the mantis shrimp at high speeds (called [tag]sonoluminescence[/tag]).

You can try to view a [tag]video[/tag] of this activity at this link (I could not open the mov file, but thats just me, hope it works for you) – This video was found on this page and they give these credits – “Courtesy of Sheila Patek, Wyatt Korff and Roy Caldwell/UC Berkeley.”

For far more information on this and other aspects of Mantis Shrimp visit “Shrimp spring into shattering action” by [tag]April Holladay[/tag], a science journalist for USATODAY.com. I have borrowed a few resource links from her excellent article and put them at the bottom of this post.

Good eating, if you can get a hold of it that is.

They taste less like shrimp and more like [tag]lobster[/tag]. The Japanese call it “shako” and eat it raw and [tag]tempura[/tag] fried. The Italians eat it as a stewed dish called “canocie in busara” (stewed mantis shrimp) (found in “Cofanetto cucina del Bel Paese“). The Chinese eat them a million different ways, to be sure. You can visit one off-the-beaten path restaurant in Hong Kong to get your Mantis Shrimp fix, fried, combined with pepper and its own roe. The Spanish call them “[tag]galera[/tag]” and boil them in salt water. They probably serve them as a tapas in some seaside locations.

I hope you have learned something interesting about these odd creatures. I sure have. I am not sure I will be eating them any time soon as they are rarely found in any market I go to and I hear they are quite [tag]expensive[/tag].

Have you eaten these? Where did you find them? How were they cooked? Did you like them? Share if you can.

Resources for learning more:

Books of Interest:

Paula Deen’s Special Collector’s Issue “Quick & Easy Meals”

March 16, 2007 in baking, beef, breakfast, cheese, chicken, cookbook, cooking, dessert, drink, Paper Palate, pork, recipe, review, seafood, Well Fed Network

[This post appeared on the Paper Palate blog, a member of the Well Fed Network]

Deen Special Collectors

(Source: [tag]Hoffman Media[/tag], click image to go to magazine order page)

I watch only a few shows on the [tag]Food Network[/tag], two of those being [tag]Alton Brown[/tag]‘s “Good Eats” and [tag]Paula Deen[/tag]‘s “[tag]Home Cooking[/tag]“. I do not watch the “[tag]Paula’s Party[/tag]” show though, something about that show makes me feel uneasy. I am positively inclined toward Ms. Deen but am not what you would call a fan. I am only a fan of the Japanese [tag]Iron Chef[/tag], other than that, I watch without much fan-like adoration.

I am also not the sort to buy [tag]cooking magazine[/tag]s because I am not in the habit of buying in the “women’s magazine” [tag]genre[/tag]. When I was a kid, I did have a subscription to [tag]Bon Appetit[/tag] (I know, wierd, I was an odd one to say the least) but not to any of the pop culture teen mags. Thus, I am not jaded by other “women’s” genre food magazines. I get [tag]Food & Wine[/tag] and [tag]Saveur[/tag] but I did not compare them to this magazine, different concept.

When I opened this [tag]magazine[/tag], I wasnt really paying attention to the fact that it was a [tag]special edition[/tag]. I was astounded that a food magazine would have zero interstitial ads. The only ads you will find are on the back and front cover. What you get instead is bombarded by page after page of simply delicious [tag]recipe[/tag]s, [tag]appetizing[/tag] and dynamic [tag]food photography[/tag], and a huge dose of Paula’s personality.

This issue boasts 85 recipes, 20 complete [tag]menu[/tag]s (and they ARE, I got full just reading them, honest) and photographic suggestions of inviting table settings and decorations. In the back, you can find all sorts of high quality kitchenalia and dining room related objects carefully chosen from artists in [tag]Savanna[/tag] and other people and places relevant to Paula’s universe.

Each of the seven recipe [tag]chapter[/tag]s starts with a nifty little box outlining the menu and then provides recipes. With no ads, they really pack quite a few recipes in on each page.

  • Wake Up Sunshine – Ham and Cheese [tag]Quiche[/tag] with Potato Crust
  • Lunch Bunch – Molto [tag]Muffeletta[/tag] (Paula’s vegetarian version of the resplendent New Orleans sandwich, too much bread and too little Italian cold cuts in my mind)
  • Special Suppers – None of the protein dishes attracted me but the [tag]Lime[/tag] [tag]Blueberry[/tag] [tag]Tiramasu[/tag] calls my name like a siren.
  • Dinner from the Grill – Bourbon Beef [tag]Tenderloin[/tag] with Sweet [tag]Bourbon[/tag] Sauce and Sweet Potato [tag]Cheesecake[/tag] with [tag]Streusel[/tag] Topping (Pinch me, I think this sounds fantastic! When my grill thaws out, I will be trying this for certain)
  • Casual Evenings – New York [tag]Strip Steak[/tag]s with Terragon Melting sauce, Herbed Monkey Bread and pornographic Easy [tag]Chocolate[/tag]-[tag]Cherry[/tag] [tag]Cake[/tag]
  • Game Time Tonight – Mini [tag]Bratwurst[/tag] [tag]Sandwiche[/tag]s (cute things. Little = eat more!) and Queen of Hearts [tag]Brownie[/tag]s (dainty decadence)
  • After Dinner Delights – Hot [tag]Carmel[/tag] Apple Cider

In the last chapter, “Quick and Classy [tag]Tabletops[/tag]“, the table setups are so colorful and very textural.

All that said, I do not see how these could be considered quick! The time I would have to spend in [tag]Pier One[/tag] just buying all the stuff would be hours. Note – I will use any excuse to spend hours there, my toddler cries when she sees the Pier One sign though.

The tabletops are classy, certainly, but super complex. I think I would need a Masters in Design to accomplish this on my own. I am sure there are many readers here who have the desire and talent to do this (it is just beautiful) but I dont see my doing it any time soon. Its likely that one of my kids would either pull the tablecloth off with little flair or light a bonfire with candles and fancy linens.

I have only three beefs with this magazine:

  1. I gained 3 pounds just reading the thing
  2. I honestly felt lonely after putting it down because Paula looks like she has SO MUCH FUN
  3. Paula’s photos can be a bit disconcerting at times because some of the shots make her look like she has a 1000 yard stare and her blue eyes are a bit too retouched to look natural. Note to Paula’s photographer, keep her giggling, catch her happy smiles and forget the Hello Kitty vapid look, it is a disservice to Miss Paula.

I can not recommend this Special Collector’s Issue ENOUGH.

If you see it on the news stand, grab it.

It will be out until May and sells for

  • $7.99 US
  • $8.99 CAN

Grasshoppers Reloaded

March 15, 2007 in bread, cooking, drink, holiday, latino, recipe, Spirit World Blog, Well Fed Network

[This post appeared on the [tag]Spirit World[/tag] blog, a member of the [tag]Well Fed Network[/tag]]

For this month’s [tag]designated driver drink[/tag], I had to stretch beyond the trite [tag]Saint Patrick’s day[/tag] “stock drinks”. I also didnt want to explore virgin [tag]irish coffee[/tag]s, whats the point?!

Today’s [tag]nonalcoholic[/tag] drink is a fusion between [tag]Colombia[/tag] (my childhood influence) and a drink popular in the 1970s here in the US, the [tag]Grasshopper[/tag]. I put this together because its green but also filled with [tag]tropical[/tag] goodness.

Guanabana (Guanabanus muricatus) is the fruit base. It is called “[tag]soursop[/tag]” by the [tag]British[/tag] (not at all sure why, sour doesnt really describe the unique flavor of this fruit). It is related to the [tag]Paw-Paw[/tag] and [tag]Cherimoya[/tag]. If you live anywhere near an urban center, you may find [tag]latino[/tag] food stores and in those stores, in the freezer section, you will likely find the [tag]guanabana[/tag] [tag]pulp[/tag] frozen into packages. Of course, the [tag]fresh[/tag] fruit will never be replicated by frozen or concentrate, but these frozen pulps are a great stand in.

Regarding the taste. In the case of this fruit, texture is coupled to the flavor. I can not articulate it completely, but there is a textural heaviness or “grit” that coats the mouth while the flavor has a slight tingle/prickly ever-so-slightly sour bite that travels across the roof of the mouth and a bit on the back of the tongue.

If you have had guanabana and like to describe it differently, please comment because I would love to see how others experience this fruit.

I remember my parents making grasshoppers and [tag]pink panthers[/tag] at home. My mom says it was a 70s thing. It marked my childhood, just like [tag]Elvis[/tag], [tag]skateboard[/tag]s, and [tag]Sha Na Na[/tag] did.

The typical grasshopper contains Green [tag]Crème De Menthe[/tag], light cream, and [tag]Crème De Cacao[/tag]. Yikes, talk about heavy. My parents would make non-alcoholic versions of it with [tag]ice cream[/tag].

This grasshopper that I have put together for you today is a more [tag]globalized[/tag] version. It contains a lot more [tag]vitamin C[/tag] and a lot less proccessed “[tag]Creme[/tag]“, whatever THAT is.

[tag]Gobstopping[/tag] Grasshoppers

Ingredients:

 

  • 1 frozen package of Guanabana pulp
  • 1 C cold skim milk (I used skim because thats what we had on hand, you use what you like)
  • 1/2 C white granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon freshly minced [tag]ginger[/tag]
  • 1 tablespoon [tag]Key Lime Juice[/tag]
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 large tablespoon dollops non-dairy [tag]whipped cream[/tag] (Cool Whip)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh [tag]mint[/tag] (In this case, my fresh mint was “displaced” by a family member, I had to use a scant drop of mint extract)

Directions:

Blend all these ingredients into a frothy cold shake and serve in frozen mugs or goblets.

Enjoy!

Name that food

March 11, 2007 in breakfast, cheese, cooking, Food Porn, ingredient, recipe

We had these for breakfast today, warm, sauteed in nutty browned butter. They are delightful on a winter’s morning.

Can you guess what they are?

Are they Tibetan MoMos?

Are they Chinese potstickers?

Are they Japanese Gyoza?

Hint: They are filled with a starch and cheese.