Mazatlan, Mexico, is called the shrimp capital of the world. I see giant shrimping boats on the horizon or at the port. Restaurants all over the city serve huge portions of shrimp. But as cheap as those restaurant dishes are, say $7 or $8 USD for a large plate of food, you can spend $7 – $9 for more than two pounds of uncooked, fresh shrimp – right off the boat!
The price is based on shrimp size and sizes range from small to giant, all for sale in a spot the locals call the street of the ‘Shrimp Ladies’. It’s a city block where people sell raw shrimp on ice in buckets. Most of the vendors are women. The entire block smells of shrimp.
Tedly bought one kilo, that’s 2.2 pounds, of large, fresh shrimp. He cleaned them and cooked them and feasted on them for three days. Shrimp tacos, shrimp with butter and garlic, cold shrimp, spicy shrimp.
I have no idea how good they were, because I’m vegetarian I didn’t eat them. Uncooked, they looked totally unappetizing. But I must say, cooked, they looked pretty good. (I still won’t eat them, though.)
So where are these Shrimp Ladies who sell scrumptious protein bites from the sea? Las Changueras set up on Aquiles Serdan, between Alejandro Quijano and Luis Zuniga. A map is here.
A few words about how to buy shrimp. The vendors will pick your shrimp once you tell them what size shrimp you want from which bucket, and how much weight. If your sense of smell is good, try to smell them. The more “fishy” they smell, the less fresh they might be. Also, the more slimy they are, the less fresh they may be – firm flesh is best. And flesh color matters – you want to buy gray flesh, not pink.
Below is a picture of shrimp in a bucket still on the street. Underneath these shrimp is an ice block. The shrimp pieces on top aren’t as chilled. On the left you can see shrimp that look more pink than gray. They seem to have been sitting there awhile. You can even see some shrimp in a sun spot on the far right side of the picture. In the sun, away from ice, turning pink. This means they likely aren’t super fresh.
Now compare the above picture to the one below. It shows what Tedly brought home – the shrimp meat is gray.
Just take your time when you buy, and you can always check the selection the vendor has chosen for you when they hand you the bag. If you see a few you don’t like, ask to have them replaced. No problem. And usually, there is no problem – I don’t want to make it sound like there is. The street of the Shrimp Ladies is a great place to get fresh shrimp, straight from the sea.
One more pointer: try to go in the morning. The shrimp appear fresher, although the Shrimp Ladies are there until just before the sun sets.
So how will you cook your shrimp for dinner?