27 July, 2011

Tiny Shrimp, Revisited

Not too long ago, I mentioned Sau-Sea Shrimp Cocktails and making my own with "salad shrimp" I occasionally bought at local supermarket Big Y. The salad shrimp there is always, without exception, nasty. Overly salty, wet and spongy and with the texture of wool felt, Big Y's salad shrimp barely taste like anything but salt. They are disgusting little grubs, and after my last experience with them I was ready to write off salad shrimp forever.

And then it was ALDI to the rescue.

ALDI's Sea Queen brand Cooked Salad Shrimp are just about as awesome as salad shrimp can be given their size.  They're plump and tender and they taste like shrimp, not saltwater. I made a couple of fake Sau-Sea-style shrimp cocktails with the Sea Queen shrimp and they were pretty good, about the same level of pretty goodness as I remember the originals.

The difference between the two products is stunning; after trying the Sea Queen brand, it amazes me that any store would put their name and logo on something as bad as the Big Y shrimp.

But aside from flavor, texture, and general edibility, there are other differences between the two products.  Sea Queen salad shrimp come in a 12-ounce package for $3.99.  In order to get 12 ounces for that price from Big Y, you have to wait until they're holding one of their "Buy One Get Two Free" sales, during which they mark the 4-ounce package up to give you two more of them "free." The Sea Queen brand specifies that the shrimp are wild caught, tells you which waters they are caught in (in this case, Guyana and Ecuador) and where they were processed (USA.) They also note the species of shrimp and the catch method on the package. This kind of labeling is unusually transparent, and it's one of the reasons why I'm not hesitant to buy frozen seafood at ALDI: I always know where it's coming from.  Would that some other big supermarket chains do the same thing - you get nothing but a terse country of origin line on the Big Y brand.

So, if you're still game to try making your own little shrimp cocktails at home, stop by ALDI and pick up a bag of their salad shrimp while they're still featuring it. You won't be sorry.


Michele Hays said...

While I never tried the tiny ones, I've been eating Aldi's Sea Queen shrimp for quite a while: they're my go-to dinner-in-a-hurry protein. You're right, it's amazing the difference in quality from most frozen cooked shrimp.

Oddly, I found their uncooked, pre-cleaned shrimp in the shell (still not bad for frozen) isn't as good.

Alan said...

Dave, you have some of the most informative and interesting food info of any blog I've seen. I love your reviews and I love the diversity with which you select topics. I love coming here to read your latest updates. As a kid, my mom used to make a shrimp salad with tiny shrimp. The shrimp tasted so good I would pick them out of the salad just to eat them. In these latter years, any shrimp I've had from frozen market brands all seem to be tasteless.

Jon said...

Thanks! I'm planning to head to Aldi's for the first time and I avoid farm raised shrimp at all costs. I'm looking forward to giving these a try!