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We tried it: Young's Seafood Jumbo Beer Battered Argentinian Red Shrimp

The idea of wild-caught Argentinean red shrimp sounds appealing, but does it live up to expectations?

This week IntraFish Journalists Dominic Welling and Lola Navarro tried out Young’s Seafood’s new addition to its premium Gastro range: “Jumbo Beer Battered Argentinian Red Shrimp," which became available in Asda supermarkets from June.

"In a first for Young’s, the delicious Argentinian red shrimp species is a new addition to the hugely successful Gastro restaurant quality portfolio, tapping into the growing demand for shellfish,” the company wrote at the time.

The 220-gram pack retails for £3 (€ 3.40/$4), and has an average count per pack of six shrimp, packed by weight.

So, what did we make of it?

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Packaging -- 4.7

Dominic’s verdict: 4.5

Unsurprisingly, the packaging is consistent with the Young’s Gastro range, with its trademark black background and gold text, claiming to be “Restaurant Quality Fish."

The overall packaging does its job in so far as portraying a premium feel, however, in this particular case, the picture on the front does not scream top-end quality seafood. That said, it is representative of what’s to be found on the inside.

There is not too much literature on the front of the packet but it does display the standard nutritional information – the levels of energy, fat, saturates, sugars and salt per each half pack.

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On the reverse, there are clear cooking guidelines; the full ingredients are listed, there is allergy advice, and while not a serving suggestion as such, it says the product is “perfect for sharing, dipping or with a simple salad.”

It also warns while every effort has been made to remove all shell, some may remain.

The back of the pack also has claims of being responsibly sourced with the logo of the “Fish For Life” sustainability program; there is storage advice; and the nutritional information is displayed once more, and in more detail.

There is also a see-through window on the back, so you can catch a glimpse of what’s inside, and the packet says the average count per pack is six, packed by weight. I only got four shrimp in my packet -- but I guess the company has covered itself here with that disclaimer – and to be fair they are indeed, jumbo.

Lola’s verdict: 4.8

At first glance, the packaging is striking, luxurious and could make a case for a premium price. It is not like the packaging of other frozen seafood products. The format, in a black plastic bag with golden letters, the Young's logo prominently on the front and a stunning shot of the product ready to eat is incredibly appealing.

The slogan of the Gastro range, "Restaurant Quality Fish," meets all the expectations of a consumer wanting to prepare a special dish, or to surprise guests.

The front of the pack spells out the nutritional values ​​of the product, and the back has text written in golden letters, mimicking a handwritten message and making it even more special for the consumer.

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It has the Young's "Fish for Life" sustainability guarantee, and gives a list of the ingredients and allergens. However, it does not have any independent sustainability stamps, making the sustainability claim somewhat vague.

The packet also has stamps of compliance with EU and the UK regulations, and the expiration date is clearly marked.

In regards to marketing, branding, and nutritional information, the wrapping is flawless. However, it is difficult to know how many shrimp are inside the pack, despite having a small window on the back. For a product that is recommended to be shared, it would be very useful to know how many shrimp we will find inside.

It does, however, say the average count is six shrimp, depending on weight, but since I would normally buy just one bag, I’d rather know how many shrimp I am taking home. In my bag there were five.

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Preparation -- 4.5

Dominic’s verdict: 4.7

Although an initial confusion over how to open the packet (do I need scissors or is this a tear option halfway down the package? Let’s try the latter) – I managed to get inside and thereafter this product was very straightforward to cook.

The packet only offers one way to cook the jumbo shrimp: put on a tray and oven bake at a certain temperature for 16-17 minutes.

It couldn’t really be easier, but if there was to be a criticism, I’d suggest maybe shaking or flipping them over half way through cooking, because they ended up slightly stuck to the tray when it came to serving.

Lola’s verdict: 4.3

The packaging is not very practical. The bag is difficult to open with your hands despite having what appears to be an easy-open system in the middle, which was quite frustrating.

The instructions are clear in terms of temperature and cooking time, and the product is easy to prepare.

After the recommended time the shrimp are perfectly cooked and ready to serve.

However, the shrimp gets stuck on the oven tray. Perhaps some suggestions on how to avoid this would be helpful.

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Eating Experience -- 2.3

Dominic’s verdict: 2.5

Now for the important bit, once cooked, how does it look, smell, and taste?

To start off, personally I struggled to find a good moment when to eat this product. Is it a meal? Is it a snack? Is it party food? It’s unclear what it’s for and who it is targeted at.

I settled for the snack option, but 17 minutes cooking time seems slightly long if you just want something to nibble. Oh, and I had a sweet chilli dip with it.

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The appearance is not wonderful, especially considering this is high quality Argentinean red shrimp, which is something that should excite you. Essentially, they are just large balls of batter and look just like that.

The product did, however, smell good and appetizing once taken out of the oven.

As for how it actually tasted, this was fairly disappointing. Mainly because the batter was far too thick and overwhelming – the poor shrimp didn’t really get a look in – it felt just like eating batter, and greasy, grainy batter at that. It seemed a shame due to the quality of the shrimp that was being masked.

At one point I was tempted to actually remove the shrimp from its batter cocoon to eat it.

But maybe this is the point, and a way to appeal to the UK consumer -- who tend to have a penchant for battered products (think fish and chips, scampi, chicken nuggets) -- and to try get them to something new.

To me though, it seemed a waste of Argentinean shrimp, and could have been anything inside under all that batter.

Lola's verdict: 2

I found the eating experience disappointing. Blame my Spanish taste buds, but I don’t think this is the way to enjoy shellfish.

The batter coat is so thick the texture of the shrimp goes completely unnoticed. I ate the product as a snack with sweet chilli sauce, dipping it as I would dip a chicken nugget in ketchup, but I soon realized I needed a knife and fork to deal with the shrimp.

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Given the thickness of the batter coating, and the fact that it doesn’t stick to the shrimp, it can easily come off it if you’re eating it in bites. Besides, the battered shrimp is too big, not the ideal size for a snack.

The taste is, again, underwhelming. While the Argentinian shrimp on its own was delicious – I separated it from the coat for a taste experiment – the flavor of the shrimp is completely hidden by the taste of the dense layer of batter.

To put it in perspective, a fair comparison of this product in a restaurant would be a tempura prawn, or scampi.

Both of these are normally choices I enjoy, but unfortunately the Young’s Jumbo Argentinian shrimp was nothing like them. Perhaps my expectations were high from the premium packaging.

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Value for money -- 2.5

Dominic’s verdict: 3

At just £3.00 per packet, you’d think this product did offer great value for money. However, in my case there were just four shrimp in the pack, so it was pushing it.

They are, though, decent sized shrimp/batter balls -- the jumbo description is accurate. That said, once again, I am not sure who this product is targeted at, who would be willing to buy it, and that is something perhaps Young’s could work on.

Lola’s verdict: 2

Although this may seem like a perfectly affordable price for premium seafood product, the value for money is not right.

The dish is quite filling but this is, again, due to the amount of batter. I did not have the feeling of having eaten shellfish, let alone wild-caught red shrimp. The main problem is the disappointment.

For £3.00 --and less -- one can get a box of fish fingers and know what they’re paying for, it may not be the luxurious Argentinian shrimp, but at least you can taste the cod.

I think the pack and the price are attractive enough to make people want to buy it, but I am afraid it will not be the product of choice for anyone who has already tried it.

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Total -- 14 out of a possible total score of 20

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How does this taste test work?

Welcome to “We Tried It,” a feature brought to you by the editors of IntraFish. As the name implies, our editors taste test new and existing seafood products available. We try them, score them and comment on them.

We’re approaching our evaluation from the perspective of a typical consumer, meaning we will focus on ease of preparation, taste, packaging and value. We’ll utilize criteria developed to evaluate products for the annual Alaska Symphony of Seafood new products contest to measure a product’s packaging and presentation, eating experience and market potential.

Products will be scored on specific aspects in four categories -- packaging, preparation, eating experience and value -- on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest score. The product will earn an overall total score based on the average of the judges' scores.

Products enter the 'We Tried It' test kitchen one of two ways: They are provided by the company producing them or purchased at retail markets by our editors. If you would like us to consider your product, please email john.fiorillo@intrafish.com.

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