- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Anyone who shops for clothes knows there’s no such thing as an absolute size. The amount of fabric in, say, a size-10 woman’s dress varies according to the manufacturer. But size variations aren’t limited to clothing. Take a look at the seafood section in your supermarket; you’ll see shrimp with labels that bear no resemblance to their stature.

For example, extra-colossal shrimp probably bring an expectation of crustaceans that rival lobsters in girth. No such luck. An extra-colossal shrimp fits neatly into the palm of the hand, and it takes more than a dozen to equal a pound.

The names are enticing, though. Wouldn’t you rather serve your companion a colossal or jumbo shrimp than a shrimpy little medium-size one? But you should know that the bigger the shrimp, the greater the price tag.

A pound of colossal shrimp sells for several dollars more per pound than shrimp that are half the size. The exact difference varies according to where you live and what your store happens to feature on sale. So instead of shopping for fancy names, select shrimp by size to fit your culinary purpose.

If you’re using shrimp in a salad or as part of a pasta sauce, it probably doesn’t matter how large the seafood pieces are. Choose medium shrimp, which pack 46 to 55 cooked, peeled pieces to a pound, or small shrimp, which fit about 60 to the pound.

When you want to prepare a simple dish showcasing the shrimp, opt for the larger sizes, such as jumbo, extra-jumbo, colossal or extra-colossal. Large shrimp, despite the name, are not.

The following entree of shrimp, coated with garlicky bread crumbs, deserves the biggest shrimp you can find. You may have to order in advance to get the size this recipe deserves.

Baked garlic shrimp

12 ounces extra-jumbo, colossal or extra-colossal raw shrimp, peeled

3/4 cup coarse bread crumbs

2 tablespoons minced Italian parsley

2 tablespoons finely chopped scallion

1 garlic clove, minced

Grated zest of 1 lemon

Salt and pepper

1½ tablespoons unsalted butter

Lemon wedges

Place shrimp in a single layer in a glass pie dish. Combine bread crumbs, parsley, scallion, garlic, lemon zest, and salt and pepper to taste in a bowl. Cut in butter until mixture sticks together. Sprinkle over the shrimp. Bake in preheated 400-degree oven for 15 minutes. Serve with lemon wedges. Makes 2 servings

Snow peas and mushrooms

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 garlic clove, peeled and minced

2 cups snow peas

1 cup sliced shiitake mushrooms

1 tablespoon soy sauce


Heat oil in 12-inch skillet. Add garlic and saute 1 minute. Stir in snow peas; saute 3 minutes or until glossy and bright green. Add mushrooms and soy sauce. Cook 3 more minutes or until mushrooms are tender. Season with pepper to taste. Makes 2 servings..


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