Colorful Argentine Red Shrimp Stir Fry

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How Often do you Cook Shrimp?

As a dietitian, I know the information about shrimp out there can be confusing. You might be nervous to eat it too much because of the cholesterol or mercury content? Or maybe you don’t know healthful ways to serve it? Have you seen Argentine red shrimp and wondered if it tastes like “regular shrimp?” We’ll take a closer look at all of these things! But first, let’s review the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025 recommendations.

While there is no specific recommendation for shrimp, the Dietary Guidelines do recommend consuming seafood twice per week. This is to ensure adequate intake of essential omega-3 fatty acids. This is especially important for growing children as it supports brain development.

Here are the serving sizes for different age groups:

  • Most adults: 2 servings (4-5 oz each) of fish per week
    • Those that are pregnant or breastfeeding can increase servings to 5-6 oz each
  • Early eaters, 6 months-1 year old: 2 servings of fish per week (1 oz each)
  • Younger kids, 2-8 years old: 2 servings of fish per week (2-3 oz each) 
  • Kids 9-13 years old: 2 servings of fish per week (3-5 oz each)
  • Older kids, aged 14-18 years old: 2 servings of fish per week (4-5 oz each)

Does Shrimp Have Too Much Cholesterol?

The relationship between shrimp and cholesterol always comes up due to the cholesterol content in shrimp. Shrimp is relatively high in dietary cholesterol. However, current research suggests that the impact of dietary cholesterol on blood cholesterol levels may not be as significant as we once thought.

Studies have shown that dietary cholesterol has less of an effect on blood cholesterol levels than eating saturated and trans fats. Fats in the diet, particularly saturated fats, have a more significant impact on raising low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad” cholesterol) levels.

Shrimp, including Argentine red shrimp, is low in saturated fat and contains beneficial omega-3 fatty acids. While it does contain dietary cholesterol, the overall impact on cholesterol levels appears to be modest for most people. However, if you have specific health conditions, such as familial hypercholesterolemia, you may need to be more mindful of your dietary cholesterol intake. In these cases, it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian for personalized dietary recommendations.

For the general population, you can include shrimp as part of a well-balanced and varied nutrition plan.

What About Mercury Levels?

Shrimp is generally considered a low-mercury seafood option. Mercury is a heavy metal that can accumulate in certain types of fish and seafood. When you consume too much of these types of fish, it can pose health risks. This is particularly true for pregnant women, nursing mothers, and young children. Compared to some larger predatory fish, shrimp, including Argentine red shrimp, generally have lower mercury levels. This makes them a safer seafood choice, especially for pregnant women and young children who need to be mindful of mercury intake.

If you want to learn more about seafood and mercury levels, you can visit the FDA Advice About Eating Fish, which has a nice PDF that you can download as well.

Why Choose Argentine Red Shrimp?

Shrimp varieties

Shrimp in general have several benefits:

  • Low in Saturated Fat: Shrimp is naturally low in saturated fat, making it a heart-healthy protein option. It’s important to note that the majority of the fat in shrimp is unsaturated, including monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. This may help improve cholesterol levels by increasing high-density lipoprotein (HDL or “good” cholesterol) and reducing triglycerides.
  • Supports Bone Health: Shrimp is a good source of phosphorus, a mineral that plays a crucial role in the formation and maintenance of healthy bones and teeth.
  • Quick Cooking Time: Shrimp cooks quickly, making it a convenient protein option for those busy weeknight meals. Whether grilled, sautéed, boiled, or baked, shrimp can be prepared in a variety of ways and help get a quick and healthy meal on the table. (Want another yummy shrimp recipe, check one out here!)

Argentine red shrimp, also known as Patagonian red shrimp or Argentine pink shrimp, is a species of shrimp native to the waters around Argentina and South America. These shrimp have gained popularity in the culinary world for several reasons and I have come to prefer them in cooking as well! 

  • Flavor and Texture: Argentine red shrimp are known for their sweet and rich flavor, often described as more intense and succulent than other shrimp varieties. They have a firm texture that holds up well in various cooking methods. They definitely have less of that “fishy” smell which I know is why some people avoid shrimp and fish in general. 
  • Nutrient-Rich: Like most seafood, Argentine red shrimp are a good source of high-quality protein. This is essential for muscle growth, repair, and overall body function. They also provide essential nutrients such as vitamin B12, selenium, phosphorus, and iodine. Additionally, they contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are beneficial for heart health, reduce inflammation, and support brain function.
  • Sustainable Harvesting: Argentine red shrimp fisheries have made efforts to adopt sustainable harvesting practices. Sustainable seafood practices help maintain healthy marine ecosystems and ensure the long-term viability of the shrimp population.
  • Rich in Astaxanthin: Argentine red shrimp contain astaxanthin, a natural antioxidant that gives them their pink color. Astaxanthin is known for its potential health benefits, including antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

You can definitely include any type of shrimp in your cooking and enjoy the benefits, however you may find that you prefer Argentine red shrimp as well!

Colorful Argentine Red Shrimp Stir Fry

I love this dish because it is just so pretty! One of my favorite things is when I can make a dinner entrée that is both colorful and tasty! This one includes both fruit and vegetables which can be a good thing for those picky eaters who may prefer fruit. It also allows for separating out the ingredients for those eaters who might not like their foods mixed.

You can see below how I serve it for my husband (over rice) vs. my pickier little one (divider plate) vs. how I serve it for my older daughter and myself (side-by-side on a plate).

Argentine Red Shrimp Stir Fry Over Rice
Served over rice
Argentine Red Shrimp Stir Fry for Picky Eaters
Divider plate for picky eaters
Argentine Red Shrimp Stir Fry
Served side-by-side

Colorful Argentine Red Shrimp Stir Fry

Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Asian, Mediterranean
Keyword: Argentine Red Shrimp
Servings: 6 people

Equipment

  • rice cooker
  • measuring cup, liquid
  • measuring cups, solid
  • measuring spoons
  • large frying/saute pan
  • large cooking spoon
  • knife
  • cutting board

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • ½ red onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp garlic, minced or chopped (disclaimer: if you have seen any of my recipes you know I toss in a TON of garlic, so feel free to add a bit more or less to your taste)
  • 2 lbs Argentine red shrimp, defrosted and peeled
  • oz basil, chopped (this is probably about 4 sprigs of fresh basil)
  • 5 oz cherry tomatoes, halved (I like to use the colorful baby tomatoes and use about half the carton)
  • 10 oz mandarin oranges, in 100% juice (I don't really measure this, I throw in as much as I feel to make it colorful)
  • 2 tbsp pine nuts, toasted
  • 4 cups baby spinach
  • 1 cup rice (I use ½ brown rice and ½ white rice)

Instructions

  • Put rice and water in the rice cooker and hit start.
  • Preheat your frying/sauté pan and add 2 tbsp olive oil. Add the bell pepper, onion, and garlic and sauté for 5 minutes or so.
  • Add the Argentine red shrimp and continue cooking over medium heat until the shrimp are cooked through, about 3-4 minutes, or until opaque (no longer translucent and starts to curl).
  • Add the basil, tomatoes, and spinach, cooking until the spinach is nice and wilty.
  • Add the toasted pine nuts and mandarin oranges just before serving. If you add the oranges too soon they will completely fall apart!
  • You can serve over rice, on the side, or on a divider plate for your picky little one!

Notes

Tips for Picky Eaters:
  • You can separate items on the plate for kids that do not like their food touching.  
  • You can serve cold mandarin oranges on the side if your selective eater does not like warm fruit.
  • Add nuts in last if your kiddo has any allergies or just doesn’t prefer them.

Let me know in the comments what your family thinks about this colorful Argentine red shrimp stir fry!

About the Author

Dru Rosales

Dru Rosales, MS, RD, LD is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian. She specializes in children and adolescents with a focus on eating disorders, weight management, and sports nutrition. Dru received her Bachelor’s Degree in Kinesiology from the University of Southern California and her Master’s Degree in Nutritional Science from California State University, Los Angeles.

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