I don’t really know how I feel about my endeavour, right now. Because I don’t particularly care for two of the ingredients: chicory and baby shrimp. Well, it’s not actually baby shrimp, it’s crangon crangon. But they’re the smallest shrimp I’ve ever seen or eaten. In Dutch we call them ‘Hollandse Garnalen’, which translates into Dutch Shrimp. That probably is because 80% of those shrimp are caught by Dutch (and German) vessels. But I don’t really like these grey shrimp. They’re tasting too fishy to me. I don’t particularly like it.
The thing is, the name implies that they’re local. And to some extent, that’s true. They’re caught in the North Sea, and the Dutch coastline borders only the North Sea. So in everyone’s mind, some fisherman walks out into the sea, catches himself a bunch of these shrimp, peels them, and then eats them. How local do you want your shrimp? It doesn’t get more local than that. Well, to some amateur fishermen this could be true. I’ve seen these shrimp on the beaches, not many, but they’re there. So they definitely live in the North Sea, and even make it to our Dutch coast. But the shrimp you buy in the supermarket aren’t local. They just aren’t. I know this because there was a Dutch TV-programme about it a while back. They traced the route these supposedly Dutch shrimp travel before they end up on your plate. What it boils down to is that they’re being caught off the coast of Denmark. Ok, so that’s a little north of the Netherlands, Denmark and the Netherlands share a group of islands (the Wadden Islands), so you could argue that it’s just around the corner. On board of the vessel that catches these shrimp, they’re boiled, then they’re sold in Yerseke, which is in the most southern part of the country. It could be IJmuiden too, at least some place with a fish auction. If you’re a supermarket, you buy your fish at one of these commercial auctions. We’re talking big fishy business. Then these little grey shrimp are shipped to Marocco. See, that’s how local these Dutch shrimp are. Maroccans peel the shrimp for a few cents where Dutch employees would cost ten to a hundred times more. So yes, economically shipping the shrimp to Marocco is a good decision. In terms of local produce it’s ridiculous. After the Peeling of the Shrimp (that would be a great title for a thriller, wouldn’t it?), they’re being shipped to Germany, where they’re being packaged. I think that after or before that they’re once again sold in Yerseke, or IJmuiden, or whatever, but I’m not sure about that. When they’re packaged they’re finally moving to the supermarkets, through a busy distribution system that will take the shrimps on a sight-seeing tour of the country.
You see, besides that I don’t much care about the taste of these shrimp, I have a little ‘local-produce’ concern about them. According to my supermarket, the shrimp I’ve just bought are caught in the North Sea and the Wadden (which actually means they could be from anywhere between Scandinavia and Spain, and they probably are). But they’re ‘green’ because no other fish are harmed in the process. But they are, because the Dutch trawlers use nets that drag over the bottom of the sea, and they catch other fish that are not so ‘green’. Anyway, I have enough reason not to buy them, but I did anyway. Because the recipe demanded it.
I must say, that after I was done with my salad and I ate it, I didn’t feel so bad about the shrimp and chicory. They were doing quite nicely in there. I liked the overall taste, and the way my extensive use of mayonnaise covered some of it up. And the excessive use of chives did do something good, too. Ok, I didn’t love it. And I’m not sure if I will make it again. But it was better than I expected. I’ll give these well-traveled shrimp some credit. And the not-so bitter chicory, of course!
100 gr Dutch shrimp (I suppose you could use any type of small shrimp, really)
3 table spoons mayonnaise
freshly cut chives
2 tea spoons soy sauce (Japanese)
1 tea spoon lemon juice
1 apple (Granny Smith)
2 table spoons freshly cut chives
freshly ground chili pepper (Ok, I don’t have that, I used chili pepper powder instead)
Cut the chicory in small bits. Mix the mayonnaise and soy sauce in a bowl, add chili pepper and lemon juice. Cut the apple into small dice, I left the skin on for extra colourful effect. Mix apple, shrimp, chicory and chives in the mayonnaise-mix. Enjoy!
shrimp: see above, pretty damn non-local
chives: cut off in my own kitchen, but I bought the plant at the supermarket first
mayonnaise: made it myself
the spices & lemon juice were pretty non-local too.