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Rock Shrimp - where to get it

I recently read an article in Saveur magazine about shrimping in the U.S. It covered shrimp from all over the U.S. with some diddies about how Key West pink shrimp was "discovered", etc. One of the species covered was rock shrimp found off of Florida's east coast. Where the heck can I get it if it's something found a few hundred miles from where I live? I have never seen it at a supermarket or fishmonger. It's pathetic that when I lived in California I was able to buy frozen rock shrimp and here it is nowhere to be found. Anyone know where to get these guys in S. Florida or do I have to travel to New York or California to get something that's harvested so closeby?

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  1. I always saw it all over the Keys but I do not know if it was a frozen product or not. It is refered to as "the poor mans lobster" because its taste is close to that of Florida Lobster. I would think you could ask your local fishmonger to order it for you. Maybe its a seasonal thing.

    1. Dixie Crossroads in Titusville. Yes, it's a tourist destination, and no, the satellite locations elsewhere do not do as good of a job. They ARE rock shrimp (literally, I believe -- I recall Bob Mervine mentioning that they pioneered the practice of catchign and cooking them?).

      It's quite a haul for you, and there isn't much other reason to go to Tville (unless you like skydiving -- theirs is the best in the state -- or the space center) but if rock shrimp is what you want, that's where to go.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Covert Ops

        Thanks for the mention of DC. I have not been there in years, but always loved their rock shrimp. Glad to know it is still there.

      2. Got a note from the Florida Bureau of Seafood and Aquaculture and they claim that (i) landings for rock shrimp from Florida shrimpers have been decreasing since 2004 and (ii) when shrimp harvests decrease, shrimpers focus selling their product in markets with the most demand which, for some reason, does not include Florida itself. They even state that the demand for it is not as strong in Florida as in other states. Which begs the question, how can something that's so tasty, so closeby and considered a delicacy in other markets be ignored by people in its own backyard? It's really disheartening.

        5 Replies
        1. re: lax2mia

          One must also ask why, in a state where no one is more than an hour from the ocean, there are so (comparatively) few truly good seafood restaurants?

          Anyways, Dixie Crossroads catches all their own shrimp, and they have a market that will ship rock shrimp and other products: http://www.wildoceanmarket.com/index.php

          1. re: Covert Ops

            "One must also ask why, in a state where no one is more than an hour from the ocean, there are so (comparatively) few truly good seafood restaurants?"

            this is so true! and sad! you would think that even the grocery stores would be stocked with fresh FL seafood. not so. a lot of the stuff they carry comes from asia or alaska or boston etc etc.

            DUH!

          2. re: lax2mia

            It's not because no one wants them in Fl but that they can get a higher price outside the state. I agree that it's very sad that most of our best fish and produce goes out state. It's been a long time since I've seen them in any market. Loved them. The texture was very close to lobster.

            1. re: lax2mia

              I live on Merritt Island, a stones throw from Port Canaveral, home of what once was the rock shrimp fleet. Over the last decade, greedy local politicians have turned the port over to the cruise ship industry. Those ships and tour bus terminals have crowded out the shrimpers, who can no longer afford to pay the exorbitant prices for berthing space. Now there are only a handful of shrimp boats left in what was once the premier shrimp fleet on the east coast of Florida.

              A decade ago, you could walk into the local supermarket and buy rock shrimp tail, peeled, for about $6.00 a pound. When rock shrimp became trendy in the rest of the US and the size of the fleet went down, prices paid by the locals more than doubled. Supply and demand.

              Add to this the sad truth that most folks that live in this area are Yankees or refugees from South Florida. They don't rock shrimp from dung beetles and wouldn't consider paying that much for "shrimp". Again, not enough local demand for the increasingly costly product mean it gets shipped to other places.

              1. re: bkhuna

                It still gets me that it's shipped to other places (such as where the Yankees come from) and as far away as Hawaii. How can people in those far flung places appreciate it and people here not?

            2. Again, you must get it fresh.

              Last night on a lame Travel Channel (or Discovery or Bravo, never sure as always Tivoed) show called "Taste of America," Mark DeCarlo visited JB's in New Smyrna where they serve allegedly fresh rock shrimp caught by a shrimper who works off their dock.

              In the kitchen interview, the owner said, "There are only three machines in the country than can shell them automatically." Those three, sez I, are owned by Dixie Crossroads.

              So, you can get fresh rock shrimps at JB's, but ya' gotta' shell them yourself. Like prying conch out of a shell with your bare hands!

              If you want the best rock shrimp in the world, for better or worse, make the trek to Dixie Crossroads, the originals.

              Bob

              1 Reply
              1. re: Bob Mervine

                There was a restaurant in St. Louis that always had them and they were delicious. They would steam them in beer, shells on and serve with drawn butter. The shells weren't so bad........just thick and hard but you got the hang of it pretty quickly. I musta had them once a week for a decade.

              2. Many Florida fisheries have been overfished and/or legislated into extinction. Marinas and commercial docks are going away and becoming waterfront condos at an alarming rate.
                Imported seafood is in most cases less expensive than local seafood; restaurants and markets of course go with the less expensive product.
                As for Dixie Crossroads, those folks created ways of preparing the previously-unwanted rock shrimp in ways that the dainty, delicate general public could manage to eat. Heaven forbid that a shrimp would have a hard shell and be difficult to peel. At any rate, rock shrimp have a much more robust taste then ordinary shrimp; I prefer them boiled or butterflied and broiled to ordinary shrimp even if there's a bit more work involved in shelling them. Very good stuff.