Popeye’s Zatarain’s Butterfly Shrimp

I really don’t eat heavy lunches, less often fast food.  But when I am in a mall I cannot resist going to the food court to see if at least one of my favorites is there.  It used to be  Arby’s but no more, now its Charly’s.  Every once in awhile you need a guilty pleasure and for many years now KFC has not satisfied that craving.  I have to say that White Castle, Arby’s and Roy Rogers have to be my favorite, probably because they are the hardest to find in my area, but they are all close in my childhood memories, so if and when I do want a guilty pleasure, its going to be one of those 3 if I have a choice.
So the last time I tasted Popeye’s it was fairly good, a lot better than KFC, at least it was not so greasy the crisp crusty breaded skin did not slide off and left you with nothing but an oily drumstick.  So, I decided to try their new butterfly shrimp.  I was in the mood for shrimp, not chicken, and I thought I might get something fairly decent, even for a fast food chain situated in a mall.  You see what they advertise above, this is what I got below.
The fries were put over the biscuit, and you can see the shrimp look nothing like the advertisement.  That is to be expected. They are the size of a quarter at best, not a half dollar like they exhibit.
No problem.  $7 later for my combo meal, I have a lemonade, fries, biscuit and some shrimp.  The shrimp are spicy, good, I eat them whole with the exception of the tail but they are a bit small.  I peeled off the breading to see what was going on, and you can see these were very very small shrimp.  In fact, this one looks about twice the size of the one I had.  I pulled this photo from another review.  (http://blogs.ajc.com/food-and-more/2012/06/26/popeyes)
And to share that with you:
“Eight shrimp in a thick cornmeal batter flavored with custom Zatarain’s  seasonings. You also get french fries, a biscuit and a little tub of lemon-garlic sauce that tasted to me like the bastard child of Italian and ranch dressings. It costs $5 – The shrimp themselves are 51-60 count pond-raised specimens from South America, China and the West Coast. Like much shellfish, they have been lightly treated with sodium tripolyphosphate to increase their size and alter their texture. They come peeled and deveined (unlike Popeye’s butterfly shrimp), with the tail still attached. Scrape away the batter, and you won’t mind what you see.

I personally found these shrimp nicely spicy and way too salty, much like I find Popeye’s chicken.”

I didn’t count the shrimp but they say 8, guess thats fine.  But there are no such thing as “butterfly shrimp”.  Butterfly is a term for splitting and flattening any type of food like  chicken, veal, or shrimp.  This way you have a flatter, easier piece of meat or fish to cook more evenly.  Sometimes its for that reason, other times its for elegance, and yet other times to make something look twice as large as it is.  In this case, its none of those.  Its a shrimp which has been split and deveined and breaded and served and is still a very small size.  It was spicy, and good, you could not taste the shrimp but from the lemon garlic sauce they serve you can taste a lot of garlic, but read the ingredients and somewhere buried far at the bottom is dehydrated garlic.  I don’t think it contains any lemon, but only acetic acid, mayonnaise, soybean oil, paprika, perhaps other spice, either way, I didn’t care for it though I did dip my fries in it to do a better taste test.

I don’t go to the mall, much less a fast food place for a culinary or gourmet experience, however, when they try to get fancy, that is clear sign to go with their main product which is chicken.  I’ve had their chicken, shrimp sounded interesting but these were not shrimp, these were mini shrimp like substances deep fried with batter which on one would recognize as anything unless they were told it was shrimp.

Here is a better image from that website so you can see the scaling below.  The little packet of sauce is bigger than the shrimp and half the size of the biscuit.  Compare to the above professional marketing photo they show you.  Again, not the worst thing in the world, tasty, a great snack, but don’t hope for a meal, and be sure to drink plenty of water to quench the salty pleasure.  Next time, I might just go to Red Lobster, TGI Friday’s or Applebee’s or somewhere else where I can get a better quality fried shrimp and a cocktail or beer to wash it down so not all is lost on the food itself.

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