Will you go for shrimps or prawns? What is the difference? For many of us, shrimp could be anything that resembles a small, swimming crustacean, and prawn is usually a big shrimp. While the big and meaty prawns are considered a privileged treat, the shrimp – as they say about things that come in small packages – are much tastier.
Japanese tiger prawns
Japanese tiger prawns
This makes the little shrimps a popular pansahog to soups such as ginisang munggo, for which their empty shells and heads are pounded to extract the juice and add an intense flavor to this staple Filipino dish. Shrimps are enjoyed in many ways – simply steamed, broiled, boiled, baked or grilled, perched delicately on rice as sushi, or a favorite beer match as gambas al ajillo. A lump of shrimp meat is always a delightful find in every spoonful of yang chow fried rice. But big or small, the relatively neutral flavor of the world’s most popular seafood makes shrimp a versatile addition to salads, soups, stir fries, pasta, and rice dishes. And they have many nutritious qualities, too.
Shrimps are low in saturated fat and calories. Like other seafood, shrimps are high in calcium, iodine and protein. Shrimps contain no carbohydrate! They may be infamous for their high cholesterol content, but as they say, moderate consumption spells the difference between sickness and health.
International health and lifestyle experts at Livestrong.com note that shrimps are an excellent source of tryptophan, the essential amino acid which helps maintain balanced sleep patterns and stabilize mood by influencing neurotransmitters in the brain. According to the World’s Healthiest Foods, 4 ounces of shrimp provides the following:
- 103% of the daily recommended allowance of tryptophan
- vitamin B12, which can help protect against heart disease
- about 15% of our daily need for omega-3 fatty acids
- more than 60% of our daily need for the trace mineral selenium, which enhances immunity, thyroid function and reproduction
Although prawns or big shrimps are quite pricey, there are other equally satisfying choices available at your nearest supermarket or suking palengke. With a little creativity, you can serve a satisfying shrimp dish at a simple dinner for two, or at an impromptu barkada get together. One deliciously practical way to do this is through the famous Spanish rice dish, paella. There are endless versions of paella all over the world – meat, seafood, vegetarian or a combination of all these – typically slow cooked in a wide pan (paellera) over an open fire.
In a hurry? Try this quick and affordable paella recipe presented into two yields (see Feeding Big for how to prepare for a big eating event and adjust recipe sizes). This recipe cooks conveniently in an ordinary pot or a rice cooker, and can feed two to six hungry stomachs.
- Boil chicken breast and set aside stock.
- Clean shrimps by trimming the antennas. Keep heads and shells intact. With a sharp knife, carefully slice the back and pull out the vein. Rinse, sprinkle with salt and set aside.
- In a medium pot over low heat, saute garlic, onion and tomato in olive oil.
- Add shrimp, bell pepper strips and ground black pepper.
- Once shrimps turn orange, take them out together with the bell peppers to avoid overcooking.
- Pour entire content of Clara Ole Ora Mix Mo Paella Flavor.
- When the sauce simmers, pour in the rice, chicken stock and a few strands of kasubha. Stir carefully.
- Simmer uncovered. (Cover the pot if you prefer fluffier rice). Stir occasionally, scraping the bottom of the pot to peel off the tutong rust.
- Serve the paella rice on a big platter. Decorate with the cooked shrimps and bell pepper strips. A squirt of lemon balances the savory intensity.