Category Archives: Shrimp

Wild Tempura Udon

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Alas, Puget Sound’s recreational spot shrimp season came and went without me wetting a pot. I dredged the freezer instead and found a frosty package from last May. And you know what? They were still shrimpalicious.

Spot shrimp (Pandalus platyceros) rank among the great delicacies my region is known for. Year-old crustaceans are not optimum, true, yet these spotties retained the sweetness that is characteristic of the species. Tempura battered and fried, they made an excellent addition to udon.

After learning in April just how easy it is to make a killer udon at home, I’ve been enjoying this traditional Japanese noodle soup a couple times a week with a variety of foraged greens and mushrooms. This version is my favorite so far. It has three wild ingredients: spot shrimp, oyster mushrooms, and devil’s club shoots. (Click here for the basic udon soup recipe.)

I’ve played with a number of tempura recipes over the years. In general, I prefer to leave tempura to the professionals (and their fry-o-later equipment), but every now and then I get a yen to make it myself. The key is to make sure the batter is wet and runny, which makes for a light and crispy finish. Too thick and the batter will fry up pillowy. This is a basic recipe that can be adapted. For instance, you could add a dash of rice wine or various spices. Experiment with the oil temperature, too. It needs to be hot enough to fry the ingredients rapidly, but not so hot that they aren’t cooked through before the exterior browns. Slice ingredients such as sweet potatoes thinly so they cook quickly.

1 cup flour, sifted
1 egg, beaten
1 cup water, ice cold
oil for deep-frying
shrimp and vegetables (e.g., zucchini, sweet potato, onion, mushroom, etc.)

1. Heat oil in a wok or deep saucepan. It’s ready when a drop of water sizzles. Adjust heat as you go.

2. Combine flour, beaten egg, and ice water in a large bowl and use chopsticks to mix together. Don’t overmix. It’s okay to have lumps. And make sure the batter is thin, wet, and runny.

3. Batter and fry in batches, careful not to crowd.

4. Remove to rack or paper towels.

Soondubu Jjigae with Spot Shrimp

Jjigae is Korean for hot pot or stew. Soondubu means silken tofu. This is Korean comfort food at its best, even more than the Bibimbap of an earlier post.

The key is finding quality Korean pepper flakes. I also like to goose mine with an added jolt of pepper paste, gochujang. Look for both at a Korean market such as H Mart, along with the extra soft and silky tofu that comes in a tube-shaped package. For the stock you can make your own with onion, kombu, and dried anchovies, or take a short cut with a store-bought variety (I like the heartiness of beef stock, with a splash of fish sauce added at the end).

Spot shrimp, cooked whole in the shell, add good flavor to the broth. As I mentioned in my previous post about shrimping in Puget Sound, the heads make a killer stock—while the tails are one of the true culinary delights of the Pacific Northwest. It’s a rare case of: heads, you win; tails, you win, too!

5-6 fresh spot shrimp (or other large shrimp in shell)
1 10-12 ounce package of extra-silken tofu (soondubu)
1/4 lb pork or steak, sliced thinly across the grain
5 shiitake mushroom caps, sliced into strips (if using dried shiitake, reconstitute in warm water for 20 minutes first)
1 large handful chopped vegetables (bok choy, napa cabbage, etc.)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 tbsp Korean coarse hot pepper flakes (gochugaru), or to taste
1 tbsp Korean pepper paste (gochujang), or to taste (optional)
1 cup meat, vegetable, or fish stock
1 handful other seafood (optional): clams, mussels, squid
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce
3 green onions, 2 cut into 3-inch sections and 1 thinly sliced for garnish
2 eggs
2 tsp sesame oil, plus more for serving

Note: Many of the ingredients above can be found in any Asian supermarket in the U.S., though a Korean market is best if you have one nearby. I use H Mart, where I bought my clay pots, gochugaru, gochujang, and soondubu, among other things. Clay vessels are traditional for Korean hot pot; they can be used on the stove top and then as serving dishes, and they keep the food hot! Also, you’ll benefit from searching out Korean-made coarse hot pepper flakes (gochugaru), made from sun-dried peppers, which will be more colorful and have a greater depth of flavor.

1. Combine garlic and sesame oil in small bowl (and pepper paste, if using).

2. Heat cooking oil in clay pot or other soup pot over medium heat. Add sliced beef or pork and sauté until edges begin to brown but meat is still rare. Remove to bowl and set aside.

3. Saute shiitake mushrooms a few minutes until starting to brown and then remove to bowl.

4. Add vegetables, green onions, and mixture of garlic and sesame oil to pot and stir until fragrant, 30 seconds.

5. Sprinkle pepper flakes (gochugaru) and stir another minute, careful not to burn.

6. Pour in stock. Bring to boil.

7. Spoon in tofu, then add seafood, including shrimp. Boil together another few minutes.

8. Remove from heat and season with fish sauce, soy sauce, and salt, if necessary. Crack eggs into pot and stir.

9. Ladle into bowls. Garnish with sliced green onion and sesame oil to taste.

Serves 2, with rice

Spot Shrimp on the Menu

Puget Sound’s recreational spot shrimp season opened earlier this month. If you’ve read Fat of the Land, you know how I approached this hotly anticipated fishery in my younger, stupider days. I’ve taken some grief for the canoe thing, and I’ll admit it’s not the safest way to get a limit of sea insects—in fact, it’s downright dangerous. This year caution got the better part of valor. I joined a friend on his new boat.

It was a beautiful day to be on the Sound. We took the Current Obsession on its maiden fishing trip and loaded up on shrimp with the aid of a very civilized Brutus Plus 40 pot-puller—a technological advancement on my previous experiences pulling in 400 feet of line hand over hand.

Pandemonium reins on the opening day of spot shrimp season. A quarter-mile-long conga line of trucks and trailers waited to launch boats at the public ramp; vessels of varying seaworthiness hustled back and forth through the chop scouting likely shrimping grounds and secret spots; channel 16 was an ongoing chatter of near-misses and at least one pan-pan distress call.

As in all fishing, a certain amount of patience is required. The goopy bait of ground fish heads, cat food, and other smelly products needs to do its work, oozing from the pot in an intoxicating cloud that the shrimp just can’t resist. We couldn’t exactly keep our grubby paws off the pot either. After barely 45 minutes of soaking we pulled the first one to see if this maiden voyage would be properly christened: a couple dozen spot shrimp scrambled around in the cage, several of which became ebi within minutes.

The fact of the matter is that most recreational shrimpers will spend—after factoring in bait, fuel, and an amortization of pots, buoys, and rope (never mind the cost of the boat!)—about what a landlubber at the fish market will shell out for the privilege. But trust me on this: few tastes equal a fresh spottie pulled from the sea. It is one of the great delicacies of the Pacific Northwest.

Spot shrimp are the largest shrimp on the West Coast, and many restaurants, fish markets, and anglers refuse to call them shrimp at all, using prawn instead. One key point to keep in mind when harvesting spot shrimp is that the head contains an enzyme that can turn the meat to mush. Prevent such a catastrophe by immediately decapitating and rinsing. And don’t toss those heads! They make a phenomenal stock or bisque.

I ate up all my shrimp fresh, not bothering to freeze any. My go-to preparations are designed to be simple and highlight the sublime sweet flavor of spots. The smaller ones get transformed into ebi sushi, with a very light steaming of the shrimp so that they remain raw inside yet cooked enough on the outside to be easily removed from the shell, while the larger specimens get butterflied and very lightly sautéed in a little butter.

Seemingly sane individuals are known to lose all common sense in the presence of fresh spot shrimp. One bite and you might be commandeering the nearest canoe too!

Tom Yum with Salmon & Lobster Mushrooms


We’ve been laid low by the lurgies. Even a morning draught of stinging nettle tea couldn’t clear my head…but an evening jolt of spicy Tom Yum with Salmon & Lobster Mushrooms, made from a salmon-head stock, seems to have done the trick for now.

Studies are being done on Tom Yum’s immune-boosting properties and I’m not surprised. Along wih Pho, the Vietnamese noodle soup, Thailand’s signature hot and sour soup Tom Yum Goong has been our go-to dinner when la grippe has us in its bony grip. Just inhaling those aromatic and spicy fumes is enough to cleanse the sinuses. Until this week, I had never tried to make it myself.

Tom Yum can be made with water, chicken stock, or fish stock. One recipe exhorts readers to use the shrimp’s head fat to enrichen the soup base—and who am I to argue with such logic? I did this by removing the heads, squeezing their fat—a noticeable orange color, as illustrated in the photo—into the stock, and then tossing the heads into the boil for a little extra umph. But more than that, I got my deep fish flavor from a couple of salmon carcasses. This year I made sure to keep the remains of every salmon I caught and filleted, which means I’ve got a ton of soup heads and backbones in the freezer.

The lobster mushrooms, picked during a hike near the Columbia River Gorge, added extra flavor and chew. I’ve always loved the paddy straw mushroom, a mainstay in Asian soups (and present in this one), but the lobster contributed its seafoody flavor and a texture that’s firmer than the straw mushroom. Together, the two species of fungus added heartiness to the soup.

3-4 cups stock or water*
1 medium-sized lobster mushroom, thinly sliced
1 dozen shrimp in the shell with heads
1 stalk lemongrass, mashed and cut into 3-inch pieces
6 kaffir lime leaves, bruised and de-stemmed
6 slices galangal
6 Thai chili peppers, mashed
3 tbsp lime juice
1 heaping tbsp roasted chili paste
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 can straw mushrooms
1 handful cilantro chopped for garnish

1. Peel shrimp, reserving heads and leaving tail on.
2. Bring stock, lemongrass, shrimp heads, and lobster mushrooms to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes.
3. Meanwhile combine chili peppers, chili paste, and lime juice in small bowl.
4. Remove shrimp heads with slotted spoon and add kaffir lime leaves, galangal, and shrimp. Simmer a few more minutes.
5. Turn off heat just before shrimp are fully cooked and add mixture of lime juice, chili peppers, and chili paste. Season with salt, brown sugar, and fish sauce according to taste.

Serves 2 ballooned-out congested heads.

*For salmon-head stock, brown in peanut oil in a heavy soup pot a couple small to medium-sized salmon heads (along with backbones if you have them). De-glaze with a splash or two of wine (Chinese cooking wine is preferable). Add 1 chopped leek and 2 chopped cloves of garlic. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for several more minutes. Add 8 cups of water and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain. The salmon meat can then be picked from the pot.

Cioppino


What’s in a name? In our anxiety-prone food culture we tend to get uptight about the smallest lexical tics and demarkations. For instance, is it a Bouillabaisse or a Cioppino? How about Fish Soup—that seems to work pretty well. Italians mostly call dishes like this Zuppa di Pesce—Fish Soup. Occasionally Ciuppin. And sometimes Brodetto… Okay, you get the idea.

A Brodetto is a regional Italian variation found along the Adriatic that calls for special inclusion of the scorpionfish, or scorfano. Bouillabaisse is the Provencal word for essentially the same thing. All involve a mixture of both finned fish and shellfish, cooked in a tomato and wine-based stew, with peasant bread for sopping up the rich broth.

Cioppino, legend has it, is a New World invention—the word, that is. Italian immigrants shipping out of San Francisco to fish the Pacific ate Cioppino at sea—the catch of the day plus whatever other ingredients they had on board. The word derives from ciuppin, which translates as “chop”—in other words, chop it all together and make soup.

That’s what I love about Cioppinos and their ilk. When you can get past the regional claims, prejudices, and pronouncements, a Cioppino is merely an efficient and delectable way to make use of the odds and ends hanging around in the fridge. But to do it right you still need a variety of fish. Make it with either red wine or white; with spicy peppers or saffron; with fennel or celery. Just make it. You won’t be disappointed.

I made mine with Dungeness crab I dove for this summer, spot shrimp caught last spring, and a medley of mollusks gathered this past weekend: Manila clams, native littlenecks, and mussels. At the fish market I supplemented the shrimp and bought small bay scallops and Alaskan yellow-eye rockfish (sold as “red snapper,” a fish that doesn’t exist on the West Coast). There was a time when I might have speared my own rockfish but those along the inner shore of Puget Sound are too small and beleaguered to be harvested now.

The bivalves came from my usual beach, where we got limits of oysters, clams, and mussels. Too bad it was raining all day because the low-low tide exposed more of the beach than usual, which made for first-rate exploring. We found eels and other small fish hiding in the oyster beds, and one stretch was carpeted with sand dollars.

Here are my ingredients this time around. Remember that you can use just about anything that swims in the sea, or that filters salt water, as the case may be. Squid add lots of flavor. Just about any firm white-fleshed fish is a good choice; avoid more fragile-fleshed species such as flounder, sole, and thin cuts of cod as well as the dark-fleshed fish (e.g. salmon, mackerel, tuna) that will overpower the stew. I used 2 cups of homemade shrimp stock. You can use a cup of clam juice plus a cup of chicken broth, or conventional fish stock. Fish heads are ideal if you can get them; my market was sold out.

2 dozen littleneck clams
2 dozen (or more) mussels
1 lb shrimp, shelled
1 lb bay scallops
1/2 cooked Dungeness crab, broken into leg segments
1 lb rockfish fillets, cut into 3-inch pieces
1-2 cups white wine (or red)
1 28 oz can whole plum tomatoes with liquid
2 cups fish stock (or clam juice, shrimp stock, etc.)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp tomato paste
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium onions (or 1 large), chopped
2 ribs celery, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 bay leaf
1-2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
fresh basil for garnish
good bread

In a heavy pot or Dutch oven saute the onions in olive oil over medium heat for a minute or two, then add the garlic, chopped vegetables, red pepper flakes, and bay leaf. Cook several minutes until veggies are soft, then stir in tomato paste. Cook another minute and pour in wine and let bubble for a couple minutes. Add tomatoes and stock, roughly chopping the whole tomatoes in the pot. Simmer for a least 30 minutes; longer is better. Add the crab legs and simmer another 15 minutes. When you’re ready to serve the stew, add the fin fish first and simmer for a few minutes, then add the shellfish. When the clams and mussels have all opened, stir in the parsley. It’s ready to eat. Serve piping hot with good crusty bread and some chopped basil for garnish.

As written above, this Cioppino will easily serve six, but for larger groups you can add another can of tomatoes, more wine and stock, extra seasoning, and leave the seafood amounts as is. Or, if serving a smaller group you might consider cutting the shrimp and scallops by half. All this seafood can be expensive when paying market prices, so tinker according to your budget and taste. It’s a very forgiving dish.

Ushering in a New Year of Wild Foods


New Year’s Eve is largely, in the view of FOTL, a letdown. If you brave the crowds downtown, you’re guaranteed a long, tedious night of bad food, overpriced bubbly, and boorish behavior. Here at FOTL, we prefer to indulge in boorish behavior in the privacy of our own home, with friends and accomplices who are forgiving of such boorish behavior. The food is a lot better too. (As is the late-night dance party…)

Once again my friend Tip and I donned the aprons to throw together huge vats of paella for our guests. But I’m getting ahead of myself. The dinner didn’t actually make an appearance until a quarter to midnight, the cooks being too busy quaffing cavas and wolfing down cheeses from The Spanish Table, including an etorki that was mindblowingly delicious. Over the course of several hours we enjoyed a feast of fresh oysters, calamari from recently foraged Pacific squid, bagna caôda compliments of our Piedmontese friends the Coras, and a full bar of booze and wine.

Though not wild in origin, the bagna caôda deserves special mention. Chris and Lori harvested winter vegetables from their garden and put together this fondue-like dish with an aromatic sauce of garlic, olive oil, anchovies, and butter, all of it heated in an attractive vessel over flaming Sterno. Really, there’s not much I can do to fully describe just how stinky and delicious this whorehouse specialty is. Sopping up bread with the sludge in the bottom—and I use the word sludge with utmost admiration—is one of the more prurient acts in the food world, always accompanied by an orgiastic chorus of oohs and ahhs. Cardoon is a traditional bagna caôda veggie; others include cauliflower, broccolini, beets, cabbage, fennel, and whatever else you want to stir into the hot bath. The taste is intense and lingers in the memory.

While I’m at it, I’ll hand out more props: to the Day-Reis gang for their marinated and barbecued lamb and the Hunter-Gales for their Big Salad. The Coras also brought over a few pounds of squid harvested out of Elliott Bay, a pound of which got sauteed up for a calamari appetizer. But the cornerstone of the feast—the menu item that set the gears into motion this New Year’s—was the paella.

Kitchen-Sink Paella for 10

We call it “Kitchen-Sink Paella” for obvious reasons. Each time we use a conflation of two or three or more recipes and end up using most of the ingredients from each, including but not restricted to: chicken, chorizo, squid, shrimp, mussels, clams, and oysters. Of those, only the chicken and sausage were store-bought this year, which is a new record. The other key ingredients are Spanish rice, saffron, and sweet pimentón (paprika). This time around we used the more expensive Bomba rice, which requires a higher 3 to 1 ratio of stock to rice—which in turn requires you, the cook, to properly estimate your size of cookware or risk a flood of paella.

Speaking of cookware, the traditional paella pan is large, steel, and fairly shallow, the broad shallowness allowing the rice to cook quickly without burning. According to PaellaPans.com, a 26-inch pan will serve 15. One of these years I’ll have to pick up the real thing, but in the meantime Tip and I have been getting by with unsanctioned cookware, including his well-named “everyday pan” and my large skillet. This year Tip forgot his pan, so we experimented with a Le Creuset French Oven, mainly because it was big enough.

In the past, if memory serves, we finished the paella in the oven; this time we decided to court tradition and not stir (this despite our choices of cookware; clearly multiple cavas were making mischief). The shallower skillet came through with flying colors but the deep French Oven took longer to cook and burned on parts of the bottom, though not in a calamitous way. The take-away here, to employ the verbiage of a former employer, is to use a broad, shallow pan. Memo to Santa…

Here’s what The Spanish Table has to say about cooking paella: “Traditionally, paella is not stirred during the second half of the cooking time. This produces a caramelized layer of rice on the bottom of the pan considered by many to be the best part. With a large pan, it is difficult to accomplish this on an American stove and you may prefer to stir the paella occasionally or move the pan around on the burner(s). Another alternative is to finish the paella by placing it in the oven for the last 10-15 minutes of cooking. Paelleras can also be used on a barbecue, or an open fire (the most traditional heat source).”

4 cups Bomba rice
12 cups chicken stock
2 large onions, chopped, or 1/4 cup per person
50 threads of saffron (5 per person), crushed, toasted, and dissolved in 1/2 cup white wine
4 tbsp (or more) olive oil
10 (or more) pieces of chicken, on the bone (thighs and drumsticks), or 1 per person
10 soft chorizo sausages, sliced (about 2 lbs), or 1 per person
5 tsp sweet or semi-sweet pimenton (paprika), or 1/2 tsp per person
10 cloves, minced, or 1 per person
1 large can diced tomatoes
2 lbs squid, cleaned and cut up
1 lb shrimp, shelled, or 2 per person
2 lbs clams in the shell, or 4 per person
1 lb mussels, or 2 per person
2 red bell peppers, thinly sliced
2 hot peppers, diced
1 10 oz package of frozen peas
chopped parsley and lemon wedges for garnish

1. Warm stock.
2. Toast saffron gently in small saute pan until aromatic, then add wine. Bring to boil and set aside.
3. Heat olive oil in large paella pan (or two pans), then brown chicken on all sides. Next add onions and garlic and cook until translucent before adding chorizo, cooking a few minutes.
4. Add rice, stirring until fully coated. Add paprika and tomatoes. Stir in saffron-wine mixture and all the stock. Bring to a boil while scraping bottom, then add peppers. Adjust heat to maintain a slow boil. After 5 minutes or so, add frozen peas and seafood, stirring in peas, squid, shrimp, and clams; arrange mussles by inserting vertically halfway into top.
5. Cook another 15 minutes or until rice is done and clams and mussels have opened. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and garnish with lemon wedges. Serve with good Spanish wines, lots of them.

Shellfish Stew


The last time my parents came to town we invited a bunch of friends over and served this Shellfish Stew to a dozen hungry guests. It’s a real crowd-pleaser. Who doesn’t like fresh seafood in the shell cooked in a tomato broth? The shrimp, in particular, help to flavor the stew. A dish like this can make you wonder why shrimp is ever sold and eaten sans shell—it’s the shell, folks, that’s packed with flavor! Whole shrimp, especially honking, insect-like spot shrimp that you’ve captured yourself, look cool too.

Marcella Hazan calls this recipe All-Shellfish and Mollusks Soup (p. 316, Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, 10th printing). True, if something of a mouthful. I call it simply Shellfish Stew. My version differs from Marcella’s with its use of whole shrimp in the shell and more tomatoes. (Is it just me and my love of the New World fruit, or is Marcella a tad parsimonious with tomatoes in general?)

Shellfish Stew is similar to other classic seafood soups with its fresh shellfish and tomatoes, but it differs from a traditional Cioppino in its lack of finned fish. Like a bouillabaisse, which is a Provencal version of Cioppino, Shellfish Stew is served over a thick slice of toasted crusty bread; my preference is the Rosemary Diamante made by Seattle’s Essential Bakery.

2 lbs whole squid
2 dozen or more live littleneck clams
1 dozen live mussels
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1 tbsp garlic, minced
3 tbsp parsley, chopped
1 cup dry white wine
1 large can (28 oz) canned plum tomatoes, chopped, with juice
1 lb fresh whole shrimp in shell, with tails sliced lengthwise for easy removal
salt and pepper to taste
pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
1 lb fresh scallops
Good crusty bread, sliced thick and toasted

1. Clean and slice squid into rings; leave tentacles attached and whole if small. Scrub clams and mussels.
2. Saute onions in oil on medium heat until translucent. Add garlic. When garlic is golden, add the parsley. Stir, then pour in wine and let bubble for half a minute before adding tomatoes with juice. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Add the squid and cook at a gentle simmer for 45 minutes. Add water if necessary.
4. Season stew with spices, then add the shrimp. Simmer five minutes before adding clams and mussels and turning up heat to high. Stir. As clams and mussels begin to open, add the scallops. Cook until all clams and mussels are open.
5. Ladle into large soup bowls, over toasted bread.

And don’t forget the leftovers: You have instant Shellfish Pasta.

Mad Shrimping


Hood Canal. Last day of spot shrimp season. Two guys, two shrimp pots, 800 feet of rope. One canoe.

This may be one of stupider things I do on occasion, but it’s surely no stupider than things I did in my youth. Yes, the water’s cold and if we dumped it would be a problem, but generally we try to stay close enough to shore so that, in the event of an emergency, the swim isn’t too far.

A few years ago we hit Dabob Bay further up the Canal on a beautiful yet blustery spring day. By late morning there were whitecaps on the water, which made for a tough go. This outing was a piece of cake. No wind, still water, not too many boats. After setting the first two pots we paddled to shore and snacked on a few oysters. Seals and eagles foraged nearby.

But maybe we should have been a tad more superstitious. After all, we were shrimping off Dewatto Point, known to the Salish Indians as the place where men’s bodies are inhabited by evil spirits.

Shrimping off Dewatto Point was sketchy enough; when I got home I was beat tired and able to summon only enough energy to make tempura fried shrimp. Head on.

Martha joined me. “It’s like salt and pepper shrimp at the Hing Loon,” I explained. “The head is good for you. Plus, you don’t want to be wasteful.” But Martha won’t be biting the heads off shrimp again anytime soon. The next day she said they invaded her dreams.

Sneak Preview: Ghost Shrimp


Just got back yesterday evening from a four-day Wild Food Adventure on the Oregon Coast. I’ve got pictures and notes to process and lots to think about, but I wanted to get something up as a preamble. The only food I returned with (we ate very well in situ) was a bag of ghost shrimp, which we gobbled up last night.

Ghost shrimp? you ask. Let me back up a little bit. On our way to the Rendezvous in Rockaway Beach, we stopped in the little fishing hamlet of Garibaldi to have dinner Friday night, at a place called The Ghost Hole. Being hungry and not at all sure we would find anything open during the off-season, The Ghost Hole was a welcome find and turned out a good burger and brew. Not until leaving did we even stop to think: What a weird name for a restuarant. The Ghost Hole? WTF?

On Sunday it made a little more sense. Now part of a large group (there were two-dozen of us) roaming the Oregon Coast in search of wild foods, we pulled over at Siletz Bay—one of many stops that day—to fill our buckets. The real object of our pursuit at that stop was the ethereal mahogany clam (a velvety smooth and delectable steamer clam, of which more later) but the ghost shrimp, looking like a tiny lobster with one giant claw, was a side benefit. We got the clams and shrimp by digging holes with a clam gun, a technique I’ve previously discussed here. The ghost shrimps occasionally floated up as the hole filled with water. The ghost hole.

You eat ghost shrimp whole, in the shell. I par-boiled mine first, so they wouldn’t be squirming in the pan, then dipped them into egg and flour before frying in hot oil. I had been warned that the ghost shrimp would need extensive cooking to soften their cartilaginous shells, but I found the light crunch to be an added bonus, like Chinese salt and pepper shrimp, with a juicy center and excellent crustacean taste somewhere between marine shrimp and crawdads. A little salt, cajun spice, and lemon sealed the deal.

More on the wild food workshop later.