Denia red shrimp
The red shrimp is one of the most sublime gastronomic luxuries that the Mediterranean offers us. Especially prized are those found on the coasts of Alicante, Huelva and Almeria. Above them all is the exquisite Denia red prawn.
Originally it was not so highly regarded because, paradoxically, both fishermen and consumers did not realise its potential. It was mainly used for fish stocks to prepare soups and rice dishes accompanied by other species.
CATCHING and TREATMENT
The Mediterranean red shrimp is transported along the Mediterranean Sea corridor. Depending on where it is caught, it comes from one place or another. The Denia shrimp is particularly juicy and its reddish colour is more intense. Its head is larger than other species and its appearance in the sea is almost transparent. The quality of this Mediterranean delicacy depends on how it is caught and treated. In Denia, the fishermen catch it by trawling with particularly long nets. The best fishing grounds are usually muddy and soft. The lower you go – and you go down to 600 metres – the better the shrimp, because the more plankton and the better the quality of their diet. In this town in Alicante they find a paradise of sandy bottoms and sea currents which, together with native algae and the absence of predators, provide a wonderful mix of nutrients.
As soon as they come out of the water, they die. Their reddish colour intensifies after about a quarter of an hour. They are then sorted by size on the boat itself and preserved until they reach port in ice and seawater. The size of the species does not depend on the age of the fish but on its sex: the largest are the females, the male being considerably smaller.
They are placed in seawater in the largest possible container and are added to the cooking process when the water comes to the boil. They are removed a few seconds after they rise to the surface and cooled with ice to stop internal cooking with lots of salt. Seasoning is avoided so as not to obscure the nuances of this delicacy.
With a more intense marine and iodised flavour than white shrimp, it has a characteristic sweetness. It provides diners with a not inconsiderable amount of vitamin B, iodine, iron, selenium, zinc and omega 3 fatty acids. This is why it is usually served cooked, in order to appreciate all its nuances on the palate. The head and the body are connected by a very resistant membrane. This is why the juices keep well on the cooker.
The Denia red shrimp has an important handicap that causes its scarcity and consequent price status: the difficulty of reaching the places that the species chooses as its habitat.
Being one of the most expensive seafood products in Spain, its price can exceed 250 euros, with Christmas being the most expensive seasonal period. The rest of the year, the price of the Denia red prawn fluctuates between 90 and 150 euros for sale in shops.
One of the best known events around this gastronomic treasure is the “International Creative Cooking Competition of the Denia Red Prawn” which is held every year in the town of Denia.