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Ridgeback Shrimp Land at Farmers Market

Santa Barbarans Welcome the Return of the Tasty Crustacean

Tis the season, as there’s no happier sign to see at the Farmers Market than the one announcing “shrimp.” For we’re not talking tasteless creatures from far away, we’re talking about the wonderful ridgeback, just recently wrestled from its briny home in the Santa Barbara Channel and now waiting to please you in yours. Gorgita Seafood sells them, heads-on, for $5 a pound. These taste like butter even prior to a dairy dip, and are sweeter than your first love. A bit dainty, but that just makes you cherish each bite all the more as you pull off the head, loosen the shell at the neck a bit, and squeeze from the tail to extract the meat. There are important caveats: Eat them soon. Keep them in the fridge and on ice. Cook them briefly. But they do wonderfully in a host of recipes, from scampi to a New Orleans shrimp boil (those Zaratarian’s boils in a bag aren’t bad), from a Pernod cream sauce to a Thai curry. And yes, spot prawns are really shrimp and ridgeback shrimp are really prawns, but that’s a distinction for marine biologists to fret over. The rest of us will just be licking our lips.

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