Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Black Tiger Shrimp, salty sardines, whole-wheat pasta and more

Farmed Black Tiger Shrimp, above with pasta and below, are imported from Vietnam, sold by Costco Wholesale and labeled "Best Aquaculture Practices Certified."
We shell the deveined shrimp, marinate them in fresh lime juice, a little salt and Organic No-Salt Seasoning, and cook them quickly in olive oil with garlic and sweet pepper, turning them once.

Editor's note: Today, I present an information buffet about Black Tiger Shrimp, sodium in Al Shark-brand Moroccan Sardines, ShopRite Whole Wheat Pasta, home-grown salad; and visits to the Tick Tock Diner and Trader Joe's, both in Clifton.

By Victor E. Sasson

Farmed-raised Black Tiger Shrimp from Vietnam are one of the most popular seafood items sold at Costco Wholesale, but there is conflicting information on just how safe they are to eat.

If you buy 4 pounds of the previously frozen shrimp, they come in a heavy plastic bag with labels that assure consumers they made "the responsible seafood choice."

The bag also carries the seal of the Best Aquaculture Practices Program, which is an industry group based in St. Louis, and a Web site: 

Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch lists Black Tiger Shrimp from Ca Mau Province of Southern Vietnam and other areas of Southeast Asia as a "Best Choice."

But below the chart, this warning appears:

"Most imported farmed shrimp should be avoided due to habitat damage, the risk of pollution and the introduction of non-native species to the surrounding environment."

"An exception is shrimp from farms using fully recirculating ponds in Thailand, which reduce the risk of escapes and disease." 

Costco's Black Tigers

Costco sells deveined Black Tiger Shrimp imported by the Illinois-based Mazzetta Company, which says its SEAMAZZ "shrimp products are farm-raised under the strictest conditions and quick frozen at the peak of freshness."

The SEAMAZZ bag I got from Costco is labeled "Product of Vietnam Farm Raised," "Black Tiger EZ Peel" and "13-15" to the pound. Ingredients listed are "shrimp and salt."

Al Shark-brand Moroccan sardines come in tomato sauce, left, or spicy oil.

Salty sardines

Heart-healthy sardines -- with and without skin and bones -- are great over salads, warmed up and eaten over rice, or chopped up in pasta sauce.

For years, I've been buying Al Shark-brand Moroccan Sardines for 99 cents a can at Fattal's Bakery and Brothers Produce, both in Paterson.

The mighty little fish come in tomato sauce or lightly smoked in spicy vegetable oil, and I buy both.

This year, I've been draining the sardines in spicy oil and actually rinsing them before I put them in bottled pasta sauce.

That's because I finally looked at the label and saw 1 can contains 603 mg of sodium or 25% of the recommended daily intake.

On Monday, I went to Fattal's to replenish my supply and took a look at the label on Al Shark sardines in tomato sauce.

I was pleasantly surprised to see they contain nearly a third less sodium than the ones in spicy oil: 220 mg or 9% of the daily recommended intake.

I bought 11 cans with tomato sauce, 3 with spicy oil and 1 pound of crushed red Aleppo pepper ($6.99 a pound) for seasoning eggs, fish, hummus and other dishes.

The boxes of 100% Whole Wheat Pasta at ShopRite are not what they seem.

Shrinking pasta

Since I switched from regular pasta to whole wheat a couple of years ago, I really haven't looked at ShopRite's offerings.

In the past, I've only seen "whole grain" pastas that were more expensive than 100% whole wheat and came in boxes of around 13 ounces.

On Monday, I stopped at the Hackensack store and for the first time saw ShopRite 100% Whole Wheat Spaghetti, Thin Spaghetti and other shapes for $1.49 a box -- only 10 cents more than Trader Joe's whole wheat pasta.

But there's a catch: When I looked at the ShopRite boxes, I saw they contain only 12 ounces, and the price isn't being cut during the Summer Can Can Sale.

At Trader Joe's, the whole wheat pasta is organic and comes in a 16-ounce package for only $1.39.

What I did find on sale at ShopRite were 4 BPA-free plastic Ziploc containers for leftovers (9.5-cup capacity) at $1 each after the Can Can Sale discount and a $1 instant coupon on the package.

And I continue to stock up on 1-liter bottles of Adirondack Seltzer at 4 for $2, a better buy than the Adirondack Seltzer 12-pack (cans) that is also on sale.

A salad of green-leaf and red-leaf lettuce from our garden, dressed with extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

A cucumber flower like the one we were served this month at Vanhorne Restaurant in Montreal. We're still waiting for the cucumbers.

Herbs and lettuce from our garden.

I stopped at the Tick Tock Diner in Clifton on Monday for soup, but the waitress said Yankee Bean, the soup of the day, was made with beef broth, and that split pea is served only on Thursdays.

Is the Route 3 diner the only one in the state that sells its own T-shirts?

The clock was running about 30 minutes slow.

I eat a lot of seafood, but I'm not familiar with a fish called "sol," which was on the Tick Tock lunch menu on Monday.

If you consistently make the wrong choices at the Tick Tock, you could end up in the cemetery across Allwood Road long before your time.

The clock is ticking

The consolation prize for not being able to find a vegetarian soup at the Tick Tock Diner was a visit to a new-to-me Trader Joe's next door.

I picked up:

A 3-pound bag of organic sweet potatoes for $3.69; 2 28-ounce cans of Trader Joe's Marinara with Extra Virgin Olive Oil at $1.99 each; 2 pounds of Trader Joe's Organic Whole Wheat Pasta (Fusilli and Spaghetti) at $1.39 each; and a bottle of fruit and vegetable wash for $3.99.

Rib-sticking breakfast: Mashed Trader Joe's organic sweet potatoes and Costco Wholesale's purple fingerling potatoes with extra-virgin olive oil, upper right, served with a fried organic brown egg (I broke the yoke), stewed tofu and Costco's Tasty Bite Channa Masala, prepared chick peas in Asian Indian spices.


  1. BHMT Ltd is committed to provide our customers with the freshest, locally grown produce at supermarket prices.

    Vietnamese organic black rice

  2. The shrimp recipe really looks delicious. And you really made me crave for shrimps now. They really look tasty. Thanks anyway for sharing this information.


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