Tag Archives: french food

Grey Shrimps of the Opal Coast

Grey shrimps are fished on the beaches of the Opal Coast, along the northern Atlantic coast of France.

They are fished as the tide goes out with a special net called “haveneau”.

When we buy these beautiful blue-grey crustaceans at the open market they are still jumping lively in their baskets.

But once cooked, their color changes dramatically to an often vibrant pinkish-orange color.

Here’s why…

‘The outer shell is made of a protein, crustacynin (like all the other crustaceans), which holds in a tight embrace the underlying pigment called astaxanthin.

Because these proteins are not heat stable, they unravel in boiling water. Releasing and voila! allowing the astaxianthin’s true red color shine through.

Guérande Salt

On the southernmost part of Brittany, in a region dotted with celtic stones, and covered with heather, lays a flat land rich in clay along the Atlantic Ocean…Guérande, an immense labyrinth of salt beds.

Salt harvesting began in the region as early as the Neolithic, but it was in the Gallo-Roman era that the extraction by evaporation method was developed.

In the 9th Century, the monks ran the salt production and created the clay salt beds exactly as they are today.

Irrigated at each high tide, in the innermost parts, the water evaporates and the salt crystals are harvested daily from June to mid-September.

During the intense evaporation in the afternoon, fine crystals form on the surface, very white and pure, with a delicate perfume of violette, this is the “Fleur de sel” (flower of salt)

Symbol of french gastronomy, Guérande salt, and especially the Fleur de sel, graces the best tables in the world.

We are lucky to have my friend Christine that makes the weekly trip to our local market, selling her nice little bags of Fleur de sel, and very large bags of corse salt that I use for the delicious Salt Crusted Sea Bass, one of the recipes taught on my french cookery courses.