Savoring Sweet Island Shrimp

Nancy and Robert Kanna. Daniel Lane photos

Kaua’i Shrimp is primarily a selective breeding business, with meat production as a secondary business.

“It’s all natural selection,” says sales manager Nancy Kanna, whose husband Robert manages the farm. “Not GMO, no antibiotics, growth promoters, sulfites or polyphosphates are ever used.”

To protect the environment, the farm was built without affecting sensitive habitats by using former sugar cane lands on Kaua’i’s sunny West side. Ponds are plastic-lined (food-grade high-density polyethylene), probiotics keep the ponds clean, and water is recycled to minimize water discharge. Although permitted to discharge into the ocean, the farm has not discharged since 2004.

The farm’s carbon footprint is minimized through use of hydroelectric power generated using rainwater runoff from Kaua’i’s central mountains, and biosecurity measures, such as bird netting, are used.

What’s growing: Shrimp, clams, oysters, moi

Superior breeding produces flavorful, healthy shrimp


With 14 Kaua’i shrimp to a pound, these babies have a sweet flesh similar to lobster. Living in saltwater that has been filtered through Kaua’i’s porous lava rock, the shrimp have unparalleled flavor.

Season: There are 40 1-acre ponds, with about 20 ponds in production at various stages of growth. Fresh shrimp is available year-round.

What to look for: Kaua’i Shrimp only sells fresh, head-on shrimp. Once the shrimp dies, an enzyme from the head slowly filters through the body and makes it mushy. Shrimp bodies and eyes should be firm, have an amber/gray color, and smell fresh and clean like our ocean.

Storage: Keep shrimp as cold as possible because the shelf life is five days under ideal conditions. Wrap them tight, and put them in the coldest part of the refrigerator. Freeze if you will not be using it right away.

Finger Fun Shrimp. Daniel Lane photos

Tip: Shrimp heads add complex flavor, and help the shrimp body retain moisture. Use heads and shells in a shrimp stock to flavor risottos, sauces, bisques and soups. Heads and shells freeze well, so save them until you have enough to make a stock. Clip shrimp antenna with scissors before cooking, and if you peel them first, run a knife along the spine to remove the intestinal tract.

Preparation: “With these shrimp, the more simply prepared, the better,” says Nancy. “My favorite way is to sauté them in oil.

You get nothing but fresh shrimp flavor.” Shrimp can be boiled, grilled steamed and baked. They only need a few minutes of cooking time; once they turn orange, they are done.

Health benefits: Shrimp are low in calories and saturated fat, and make a nutritious alternative to meat protein. A 4-ounce serving supplies 23.7 grams of protein, 112 calories and less than 1 gram of fat. It’s an excellent source of selenium and a very good source of vitamin B12. In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers found that shrimp raised HDL (good) cholesterol levels more than it increased levels of LDL (bad), and participants had significantly lower triglyceride levels.

Kaua‘i Shrimp uses cull harvest for small weekly deliveries

Kaua’i Shrimp can be found at: 23 restaurants on Kaua’i including Nanea, The Feral Pig, Wrangler’s and Mark’s Place. Grocery: Ishihara Market, Kukuiula Market, Living Foods Market, Foodland, Times/Big Save and Costco. For more information, call Nancy at 3380331 or visit


I like to keep the heads and shells on because it adds fantastic flavor, plus it’s fun finger food! I have a good time eating with my hands and prying the succulent meat from the shells. After I pop off the head, I run a steak knife along the inside and the shell slips right off. Peel and boil for an excellent New Year’s shrimp cocktail.

* 2 pounds Kaua’i Shrimp, antennas clipped
* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* Hawaiian sea salt

Shrimp grow in clean, naturally filtered saltwater

Toss the shrimp in olive oil and salt. Heat large skillet over high heat until it’s very hot. Lay a single layer of shrimp in the pan and cook for one minute. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for a minute longer. Raise the heat again and flip shrimp; cook for one minute. This technique produces juicy, perfectly cooked shrimp. Reduce the heat to medium, and cook the shrimp for one minute or until orange. Remove shrimp, cover and set aside. Repeat with remaining shrimp.

Arrange seven shrimp on each plate to form a star, with the heads meeting in the center of the plate. Enjoy!

Makes four servings.