Saturday, August 9, 2014

Vietnamese Shrimp

Readers of this blog know that I am a huge Costco fanboy. I shop there religiously. Every single week. The quality of their food is extraordinary. And when it comes to protein, no one can touch their quality/price relationship.

There are a lot of food fuckwads bloggers out there that scream  "DO NOT BUY COSTCO SHRIMP AS IT IS FARM RAISED IN ASIA!!!". To that I reply, "why yes, it is farm raised in Asia".  And while there are indeed horror stories about farm-raised shrimp in Asia, Costco is not part of that equation.

Back in 2005, Costco asked the World Wildlife Fund to build a consensus for environmental and social standards for responsibly farmed seafood. Those standards were established and handed over to the Aquaculture Stewardship Council, a non-profit that manages farm certification programs.

Costco fully supports those standards and requires that each of it's farm-raised seafood suppliers become fully certified through the ASC. Costco has also developed very strict quality and freshness standards and every shipment of shrimp is tested to ensure that it meets those standards.

Besides having all of those assurances, I buy Costco shrimp because it tastes great. I buy their shrimp frozen. It is sold under the Kirkland Signature brand, which also lets me know that it is considered a product of the highest quality at Costco.

The shrimp comes in all different sizes and it also comes raw or cooked. I always buy raw (so that I can choose the level of doneness). I always buy the 21-25 pieces to the pound size as those are nice, big plump shrimp. I usually have 3 bags on hand in my freezer and when I want one I pop it in the fridge overnight to thaw.

Costco sources their shrimp from farms in India, Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam. Whenever I get a bag of Kirkland shrimp from Vietnam, I always make this recipe (which serves four). It's just my way of showing my tasty little shrimp friends that you can go home again. 

1/4 cup fish sauce
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 pounds extra large shrimp, peeled and deveined (Costco shrimp come this way)
3 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro

  1. Combine the fish sauce, dark brown sugar, crushed red pepper flakes and water in a medium bowl and whisk until brown sugar is dissolved.
  2. Heat the vegetable oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook a few minutes more. Do not brown.
  3. Turn the heat up to medium-high and add the shrimp. Cook, stirring frequently, until the shrimp are just barely pink and still translucent in spots, a few minutes. Add the fish sauce mixture, turn heat down to medium, and simmer until shrimp are cooked through, a few minutes more. (Note: the sauce will be thin.) Off the heat, stir in scallions and cilantro. Serve immediately with jasmine rice.

Wine pairing: New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc

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