Ridgeback shrimp, a species native to the California coast, are finicky creatures, says elmomonster. "They must be kept alive until the very moment they are to be cooked—otherwise the internal organs start to degrade rapidly and they turn an unappetizing black. They are also armored with a carapace made for medieval forms of war," elmomonster says, warning that the spiky shell is hard on hands and fingers. "Seriously, a chain mail glove would probably be advisable to use here," says elmomonster. "But oh the rewards."
"The meat is inordinately sweet, deep in flavor, not at all fishy, and as delicate as crab. The stripes of a cooked ridgeback are deep crimson instead of pink. You also need to tear into the head, peeling the skull back like a brain surgeon and then nibbling on the meat right behind the beady eyes along with all of that delicious pulpy gunk that surrounds it."
So far, the only place outside of Santa Barbara that serves them is The Shack. If you crave ridgebacks specifically, be sure to call first, since the ridgeback season is almost over. But they come back in September, and elmomonster will be at the Shack when they do, iron gloves at the ready.
The Shack [San Gabriel Valley]
18927 Colima Road, Rowland Heights