Fire shrimp (Metapenaeopsis barbata) is also known as dog shrimp in Penghu County. In Hong Kong it is called red rice shrimp, in Japan ‘Akabe’ (red shrimp).
As the name suggests it has a ruby-red body. The main harvest season is from October to May during the north-eastern monsoonal season. It has a very thick shells and contains high levels of Astaxanthin which is a very strong antioxidant. It has a nutty flavour, and it retains its characteristic red colour even after being boiled. Their size varies from 5 to 10 centimetres (2-4 inches).
Few northern and central Taiwanese people know the traditions of the Tainan fishing villages, in particular the ones of the Jiangjun district, where these wild shrimps are sun dried. The traditional method calls for the fresh wild shrimp to be shelled by hand while they are still fresh, their intestines are also removed. After this they are ready to be dried. Local residents like to add them to rice or fried noodles.
These shrimps have a great tradition in Tainan and Penghu County and are also used for shrimp rolls, meatballs, eaten with rice or even as a snack.
Today, these shrimps are endangered due to uncontrolled catching and trade, which is why it is good to replace them with other non-endangered species to help the local populations recover. This is also due to the fact that they cannot be reproduced using aquaculture.