Caribbean Shellfish DelightJune to September is calico scallop season along the west coast of Florida. During our annual treck to Homosassa Springs, concern about red tide and oil contamination seemed to outweigh the nutritional benefits of harvesting wild scallops- a real privilege for us on the west coast of Florida. The FL Institute of Oceanography estimates that Florida seafood is a $50 billion industry with 43% of the US catch coming from the Gulf coast (over 205 million pounds in 2011).

But the US remains the world’s number one importer of seafood (Japan is second). Eighty four percent of the finfish and 92% shrimp consumed here is imported from China, Thailand and Canada. Much of the imported seafood is produced in aquaculture so eating wild caught seafood is rapidly declining.

A naturalist among us described how farmed Asian shrimp was produced just before we hit the water to search for scallops. I reflected back on the feeding regimes observed at catfish, trout and eel farms while serving as Florida’s seafood nutrition specialist. Farmed seafood is helpful in meeting animal protein requirements for a growing world population but we need better husbandry rules to ensure a sustainable and healthy farmed product. Too many farmed species are fed corn and soy feed pellets that contain little or no fish meal. Grains produce a big fish or prawn without omega-3 fatty acids- the health reason most people eat seafood.

Our trip yielded so few scallops that Key West shrimp had to be added to my Caribbean Shellfish Delight recipe. Scallops are a unique shellfish with the lowest fat and cholesterol of any seafood, yet high amounts of omega 3 fatty acids for brain and immune health according to Dr. Joyce Nettleton’s book Seafood and Health.

Caribbean Shellfish Delight

1 pound fresh calico scallops or shrimp (shelled)
1 tablespoon coconut or olive oil
1 cup chopped mango cubes
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon lime or lemon juice
Rosemary sprig to taste
Thyme sprig

Saute scallops or shrimp in oil just until tender, 4 -5 minutes over medium heat. Cool. Add rest of the ingredients and toss gently. Serve on lettuce or rice. Garnish with extra rosemary and thyme sprigs before serving. Makes 4 servings.

Calories per serving: 182
Protein 22g; Carbohydrates 6g; Fat 4 g; Sodium 48 mg