Notes from the Island Fishmonger

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Shrimpin’ ain’t easy

With the holidays quickly approaching, family meals are being planned in the spirit of the season. We’ll have our hams, turkeys and duck entrees but almost all of us will be serving a shrimp cocktail appetizer. Other great holiday seafood suggestions include smoked fish spread, stone crabs, crab cakes, smoked salmon, caviar, oysters, and live lobsters – all available at Big Water Fish Market on Siesta Key

Not everyone takes into consideration what it takes to put that delicious shrimp on your plate. First, the shrimpers wake up at the crack of dawn, load the gear and prep a boat, rain or shine. They set out to sea sometimes for days or weeks at a time with a bunch of guys they may or may not even like. They drag nets, hand pick, process and separate the shrimp catch, then they ship via truck or plane all around the world. It’s a process, man. The next time we say grace over a seafood fest someone should thank the fishermen because shrimpin’ ain’t easy.

October through May is shrimp season in our Gulf waters. Just in time for the holidays, gulf Shrimp is presently in the prime of its season.

Here is a fun fact…. shrimp is the singular most popular food in the world and is a naturally renewable resource. Shrimp are an excellent source of high quality protein and are naturally low in fat, carbohydrates, calories and are a great source of Omega- fatty 3 acid.

Fresh and fresh / frozen Gulf shrimp are definitely available all year around. Locally, our biggest resources come from the Fort Meyers beach to Key West area. Shrimp boats leave Fort Meyers everyday headed south and return to the docks with fresh shrimp on a daily basis. The shrimpers are met by Big Water Fish Market buyers on a weekly basis as they buy fresh off the boat.

The bigger companies such as Trico Shrimp Boats head out deep sea trawling from Florida to Louisiana and Texas where they process, freeze and package the shrimp while still on the boat. This is called fresh / frozen and makes fresh shrimp available all year round. During the summer season, look for good deals on mouthwatering treats of the sea such as Fresh Key West Pinks, Gulf Pinks, Browns, Whites, Darien Georgia fresh shrimp, Rock shrimp, and Royal Reds from both the Gulf and Atlantic Florida oceans.

Pink shrimp make up the majority of Florida’s wild caught shrimp. Big Water Fish Market manger Daniel Lindsey comments, “The shrimp we buy off the boats, mostly pink shrimp from the Dry Tortugas, are always still alive when we make the purchase.”

That’s as fresh as it gets, folks. Pink shrimp make up the majority of Florida’s wild caught shrimp.

“The meat is white with pink tones and has a firm, tender texture and a mild sweet flavor,” explains Daniel, an experienced Siesta Key fishmonger.

Brown Shrimp have a stronger ocean flavor due to a higher iodine content. The shells are brownish but the meats turn pink when cooked.

Royal Red Shrimp have a deep red color, a much more of a soft and delicate texture and a unique briny flavor. The Reds taste a lot like a crawfish, lobster and shrimp combination if you can imagine that.

Rock shrimp are my favorite, named for its tough rock hard shell. This shrimp is usually sold peeled and deveined so you don’t have to work past the hard lobster like shell. The cooked meat with red skin tones has a sweet shrimp taste with a firm lobster like texture.

It can’t be easy going through life as a shrimp. Trust me, I would know. There’s still a popular sandwich named after me in Georgia, “Scott’s a Shrimp Po Boy”. Press like that might give a guy a napoleon complex and force him to drive big trucks and such.

Any way growing up as a shrimp, alive or not, your end result is being part of the food chain. Your either shark dinner, trapped in a trawling net by Bubba Gump’s shrimp boat, or bait at the Siesta Marina. If you’re a shrimp, the best you can hope for is to become a taco.

Happy Holidays and don’t forget your shrimp cocktail from Big Water Fish Market.

Everyone be safe, stay in small groups and social distance so in 2021 we can celebrate the holidays proper like.

Stay healthy….Eat shrimp.

Scott Dolan

Big Water Fish Market

6641 Midnight Pass Road, Siesta Key

Scott Dolan
Author: Scott Dolan

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