Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Las Vegas Shrimps Are Going Green

Since my previous post was about lobster, I decided to continue in the same line of crustaceans and talk today about shrimps - Las Vegas shrimps.

A peculiar thing about some of the shrimp we eat in Las Vegas is that it’s grown in Las Vegas.  Grown in a farm.  IN A FARM?  Growing shrimps in the desert?  That was my reaction when I first learned about this fact.

As anyone can imagine, Las Vegas is a major consumer of shrimps with its numerous hotels and myriad of restaurants. Visitors and locals eat 22 million pounds of shrimps annually.

But there’s a problem with shrimp.  Shrimp is known for being the dirtiest of all seafood.  I have seen it many times in the lists of fish you should never eat.  Most shrimp is pulled by fishermen from polluted waters.  So, now that I have killed your appetite for shrimps, I have some good news and bad news.

I’ll start with the good news.

Last year a fish farm called Blue Oasis Shrimp Farm opened in North Las Vegas.  It’s about 30 miles from the Strip.  This is a state-of-the art $5 million operation.   At this farm the shrimps are harvested in tanks.  The water in the tanks in which the shrimp are grown is constantly recycling.  The shrimps are fed with algae and seafood protein.  These shrimps are 100% all natural.  Blue Oasis is expecting to grow half million pounds of shrimps a year.

These shrimps are being served at 17 high-end restaurants on the Strip.  Two of the hotels serving these shrimps are Mandalay Bay and Hard Rock Café.  They can also be bought at Albertson’s by the pound.

But what about the taste?  I cannot attest to that because I have not tried them yet.  But I can assume that if they are being served at high-end restaurants in Las Vegas, the product has to be good.  I do know that Executive Chef Mike Minor at Border Grill, Mandalay Bay, liked them.

I’m not crazy about shrimps, but once in a while I enjoy eating a jumbo shrimp cocktail from the Gulf Coast served with a glass of wine. Well, that was before the oil spill, anyway.  I'm curious to try these shrimps.  I need to put one of these restaurants on my To Go List.  I think another Vegas mantra is in place:  what’s grown in Vegas, must be eaten in Vegas.  I admit that when I first heard about this, I was skeptical.  But now, I’m ready for the shellfish adventure.

Okay, now the bad news.

The bad news is that 90% of the shrimp eaten in Las Vegas come from China and Southeast Asia.  These shrimps are full of preservatives and they are frozen before they are shipped.  By the time these frozen shrimps arrive to their destination, they are a little tough and chewy.  The shrimps from Blue Oasis are never frozen so they are fresh. 

The second bad news is that to eat these farmraised shrimps I would imagine comes with a price tag.  I say that because, so far, only high-end restaurants on the Strip are serving the shrimp.  I think that I will wait until they are sold at Rubio’s (just kidding, this is the cheapo in me).

Go green!  Now you can do so by eating organic shrimps with no chemicals, no antibiotics, no pesticides or preservatives and mercury free. Cool!

Dozens of tanks filled with 50,000 shrimp each

Blue Oasis recycles all the water in its self-cleaning tanks

Algae Food

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