Small food, big deal

North Carolinas second largest seafood catch is celebrated in all of its forms on National Shrimp Day

Madeline Gray—North State Journal
Melvin Cooper

May 10 is National Shrimp Day, and citizens of the Old North State are fortunate to have easy access to the delicious “fruit of the sea.” North Carolina shrimp are harvested in all of the state’s coastal fishing waters to the tune of almost 7 million pounds per year on average. The commercial shrimp industry is worth more than $13 million each year to the state’s economy. Three species of shrimp call N.C.’s waters home: brown, pink (spotted) and white (green tail). Brown shrimp are the state’s No. 1 species and make up more than two-thirds of shrimp caught. The shrimp are being caught off of the coast now and the high season for brown shrimp landings is in the summer. Mike Earp, owner of Saltwater Seafood in Raleigh, said 2017 has been a good shrimping year so far in North Carolina. “We are seeing white and brown shrimp coming from Morehead City in our seafood case,” Earp said.Shrimp ranks as the top U.S. seafood with the average American consuming more than four pounds each year. Earp said that popularity may be because, “Shrimp are easy, simple to cook and can be ready in just four minutes.” According to Earp, large shrimp are the most popular size with 21-25 shrimp per pound.”Large shrimp are great for grilling, shrimp boils, and shrimp and grits,” he said.If you are interested in cooking your own shrimp, a good rule of thumb is that two pounds of shrimp in their shells will yield about one and a quarter pounds when peeled. The accompanying recipe is a tried-and-true N.C. favorite for boiled shrimp. If you want to continue the shrimp celebration as summer moves on, the town of Sneads Ferry hosts an annual Shrimp Festival which will be held Aug. 12-13. The event features a car show, concerts, a shrimp dinner, parade and cooking demonstrations.