Wild Northern Shrimp... for a Limited Time Only

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Last evening I found myself at Columbus Circle so I decided to wander the packed aisles of Whole Foods. To my great delight, the fish monger was offering seasonal Wild Northern Shrimp from the coast of Maine.

Maine shrimp are the shrimpiest shrimp around, known for being sweet and firm, and very tiny. There can be between 30 and 70 in a pound. The nice fellow next to me in line was buying three pounds. "You just cook them in a little butter and toss 'em in your mouth like popcorn," he told me, bug-eyed with excitement for his purchase.

And what makes them extra-special is that they're usually available in February and March. Then the party is over.

Although there are still issues with the trawling methods with which most shrimp are caught, U.S. trawling is more regulated than in foreign seas, so worries about serious by-catch (sea turtles for example), can be put at a slight ease. (Here's the Blue Ocean Institute's scorecard for this species.)

Fresh Wild Northern Shrimp are at Whole Foods in NYC for $5.99/pound. Sauté them in butter and garlic with some salt and pepper and as the wise gentleman said, eat them like popcorn. Or, as we did, toss them in some pasta.

(photo: Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance)

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Sara Kate is the founding editor of The Kitchn. She co-founded the site in 2005 and has since written three cookbooks. She is most recently the co-author of The Kitchn Cookbook, to be published in October 2014 by Clarkson Potter.