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Wild American Shrimp
in Tomato Compote
By Charlie Burke

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In my family shrimp was a sign of a special occasion –- New Year’s Eve or
some other holiday. Shrimp was expensive and its salty sweet flavor was
memorable. We had a dear friend in Maine who loved lobster, and she and
her husband frequently shared a lobster dinner. Whenever she had guests,
however, she always served shrimp cocktail as an appetizer, which, to her,
was the only way to start a special meal.

In the last twenty years, shrimp has been raised in farms in the third world.
Mangroves, which are breeding grounds for shrimp and other species have
been destroyed and replaced with ponds for farm raised shrimp which
pollute surrounding waters. These farm raised shrimp are now in all our
markets and, like Wall Mart pricing, have driven down the prices of
legitimately fished wild shrimp and have endangered the livelihood of

Sadly, these farms are polluted and diseases in the shrimp have resulted in
the use of many dangerous antibiotics, such as chloramphenicol which is
banned in this country because it causes aplastic anemia. For these reasons,
Seafood Watch  has said that wild American shrimp are best, and imported
farmed shrimp should be “avoided”. We found a bag of beautiful wild
American shrimp in our local market, and the taste was clearly better than the
muddy taste of farmed shrimp we have been served in the past.

Usually, I sauté shrimp, but for this preparation, I made a tomato reduction
with lemon, shallots and olive oil and then cooked the shrimp in this mix.
The light acidic taste of this “compote” complements the shrimp’s sweetness
in a healthy low calorie dish which is full of flavor. I served it on whole grain
Udon pasta which is made from durham wheat and is rich in fiber and is
heart healthy.

Two servings:

12 large wild American shrimp (U 21-25 or larger), shelled and de veined
¾ cup home canned or commercial tomatoes, such as Muir Glen organic
1 medium shallot, finely chopped (1 ½ - 2 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
¼ cup dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
2 thin slices of lemon
¼ teaspoon dried marjoram
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/8 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Heat a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add olive oil, and, when the oil
shimmers, add shallots and cook until soft but not browned. Add tomatoes,
lemon juice, lemon slices, marjoram and cayenne. Cook, stirring until tomato
liquid evaporates and sauce thickens. Add white wine and cook until the
wine is nearly evaporated. Lightly salt and pepper shrimp and cook until just
opaque. Taste sauce, adding salt and pepper if needed and a small amount of
additional olive oil if too acidic. Serve immediately with rice, couscous or
pasta and vegetables or salad. Serve with the Sauvignon Blanc or similar dry
white wine.

Avoid the temptation to buy farmed shrimp. The conditions under which
they are raised are environmentally unsound, and the shrimp pose a
potential health hazard to your family. By paying a little extra, you not only
get a safer and better tasting product but also support hard working
American fishermen who harvest shrimp using environmentally sound

About the author: An organic farmer and avid cook, writer Charlie Burke is the vice
president of the
New Hampshire Farmer's Market Association, president of the NH
Farm to Restaurant Connection and helps run the Sanbornton (NH) Farmers' Market.  
Along with his wife, Joanne, Charlie grows certified organic herbs, greens and berries at
Weather Hill Farm in Sanbornton, NH.  
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Shrimp in Tomato Compote
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