I Ate Here: Brinnon ShrimpFest

It was pretty hard to get my hands on some Hood Canal spot shrimp at ShrimpFest today. There was only one booth selling packages of the coveted shellfish to take home and only one vendor–Uncle Jim’s Smokehouse of Chehalis, Wash. had some cooked shrimp to sample. I had to wait about 20 minutes in line to sample the shrimp, but it was well worth the wait.

battered shrimp

battered and fried Hood Canal spot shrimp skewer


Uncle Jim’s Smokehouse primarily serves garlic sausage, but had added a special shrimp selection on the menu fort the festival. Each skewer had five plump, juicy, succulent pieces of shrimp (which were rather large in size, I think they could technically be described as prawns). Each piece was shelled and had spent two hours in a smoker.Then they were dipped into a light, fluffy seasoned batter and deep fried until golden with crispy edges and a pillowy center. The shrimp had the perfect combination of smokey, and salty and sweet flavors and reminded me of hickory smoked bacon, only it was seafood.

The festival continues Sunday, May 24 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.  In addition to the shrimp skewers, festival organizers say there will be another vendor selling a hood canal shrimp paella, a Spanish rice and seafood dish that is slow-cooked in a pan over an open flame often seasoned with saffron and rosemary.

Preview: Hood Canal Spot Shrimp Abound at this weekend’s Brinnon Shrimp Fest

I lived on the Washington Coast for almost four years and the crustacean people went ga-ga over in that region was the Dungeness crab. But apparently one of the most popular shelled critters to eat on the Hood Canal region of Puget Sound is the Spot Shrimp. I did not know there was shrimp in our Puget Sound waters. (Hood Canal residents are probably guffaw-ing as they read this)

The species is named after the “spot” at the base of its tail. They are quite large prawns, which can grow up to nine inches and can only be caught for a few days a year.  The folks I interviewed for the piece say the shrimp are soft, succulent and sweet and ‘melt in you mouth like butter.’  I’m looking forward to expanding my culinary horizons and sampling some of these critters at Shrimpfest, which takes place from 10-6 Saturday and 10-5 Sunday in Brinnon, which is about halfway between Shelton and Port Townsend.  After you read the preview, feel free to leave comments below and tell me about your experiences with Hood Canal Shrimp.



baconshrimpShrimpFest Comes to Brinnon This Weekend

13,000 Pounds of Shrimp Caught For Festival

By Rachel Thomson

Benjamin Buford Blue, otherwise known as Bubba to Forrest Gump fans, was right.

Shrimp is the fruit of the sea,” Phil Thenstedt says, borrowing a quote from the shrimp fanatic in the movie Forrest Gump. Thenstedt is the president of the Emerald Towns Alliance, the organization hosting the 22nd Annual Shrimpfest this weekend.

The Hood Canal’s famous spot shrimp will be star of the festival, which runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at the Yelvick General Store Field in Brinnon. Active duty and retired military members get in free, as do kids 12 and under. Admission for the general public is $4 or $6 for a two-day pass.

There isn’t any bad way to cook shrimp,” Thendstedt says. “What makes spot shrimp so special is that it’s a sweeter tasting shrimp and it doesn’t require a lot of seasoning. It melts in your mouth like lobster.”

Several vendors will be at the festival offering creative and tasty recipes for shrimp-lovers to try, like lightly-smoked shrimp skewers and freshly-cooked shrimp served over a bed of Japanese-style soba noodles. On Sunday, there will also be the chance to taste local shrimp in paella, a Spanish rice and seafood dish that is slow-cooked in a pan over an open flame often seasoned with saffron and rosemary. Also on Sunday will be the belt sander races, which take place at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.

And of course, there will be shrimp for festival goers to buy and take home to incorporate in their own culinary creations.

Last week marked the end to the short shrimping season. The Washington State Department of Fish & Wildlilfe allowed only four days of shrimping in May. During that time, local shrimpers caught more than 13,000 pounds of the crustaceans for the festival.

In addition to shrimp, there will also be booths with other local seafood, sandwiches and carnival goodies. There will also be arts, crafts, games and live music performances. A complete schedule of events can be found at www.brinnonshrimpfest.org.

If You Go:shrimpkebobs

What: Brinnon Shrimpfest

When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday

Where: Yelvik General Store Field, 303375 Highway 101 (3 miles north of downtown Brinnon)

Cost: Free for retired and active duty military members and children 12 and under; $4 one-day pass or $6 two-day pass

For More Info: visit www.shrimpfest.org or call (360) 796-4456

A shuttle will be available throughout the festival at Doesewallips State Park and Pleasant Harbor Marina.


All photos courtesy Brinnon ShrimpFest.