Tuesday, May 13, 2008

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.


Lutheran Lucciola said...

Hey, I just found your site, and it's great. Do you have any recommendations for a person in the SF Bay Area? Some of the plants by you might be the same for me, but there's so many over here, that I know nothing about yet!

I'm linking your site to my "sustainable living" section....thank you!

Anonymous said...

yummy! i've never even heard of ghost shrimp, commander. bully! for yuo. ya got any left?

Hunter Angler Gardener Cook said...

Or...you could save those puppies and use them to catch sturgeon in the Suisun Marshes or the Carquinez Straits, where ghost shrimp are the top sturgeon bait.

Funny, I eat shrimp shell-on, too -- if they're not to hard. I kinda like the contrast in textures.

Langdon Cook said...

Lulu: Thanks for reading. I lived in the Bay Area for a couple years before moving to Seattle. Very different climate. My advice is to join clubs--mycological, botanical, etc. Most offer day hikes and forays to identify species in the field. Read any books you can get your hands on--but don't start eating things until you can identify them with certitude. A trained expert in the field is the way to go; there's no substitute.

Thee: We need to scout a ghost shrimp hideout in WA. I know what the habitat looks like now.

Hank: On the Columbia they use whole shad to catch sturgeon. Either way, I'm hard-pressed to give up the shrimp or the shad to a prehistoric fish with no manners...but boy do they taste good...

MPoLNW said...

Finspot, you're everywhere. Every time I come across a new edible, and 'google' it, you're there. Awsome.(I met you at the very unproductive NATS foray in camas a couple years ago.) Going out for the free fishing weekend and decided to see what 'else' was out there for insertion into my piehole and found these ghost shrimp. sounds like I may be giving them a shot!