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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.

                1. I agree with all of the above. It is very sad that we can't get great seafood. I can't believe how unbelievably difficult it is to even find fresh (not previously frozen ) shrimp outside of the keys...and don't even get me started on the produce!

                  1. Brigadoons at Rose Bay just North of New Smyrna Beach has shown rock shrimp on their outside advertising for about the last 3 weeks.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Wakeley Bridge

                      Have you tried that place, WB? I drive past it occasionally and it gave off that great on-the-water dive feel, but it looked almost TOO divey, like all they served was bait. *shrug*

                      1. re: Covert Ops

                        They've actually cleaned the place up in the last couple of years. My uncle used to drive all the way from Ocala to buy blue crabs there. I've gotten carry out two or three times. All good.
                        Any place that claims to be "fine dining in the dirt" can't be all bad.

                    2. I only hope that the world comes to its senses soon.

                      You can't get Florida shrimp in Florida. It figures.

                      I remember driving through Colorad, Washington, and Californaia in 2001 and I remember it was gard to find fruit native to its own state, but fruits drom the other 2 states were in every grocery store.

                      We have to stop buying things that come from far away and try to enjoy the things that are close to us, or we are doomed.

                      1. A slightly unrelated Dixie Crossroads question: Is it true the Titusville location is not the original, that the Mount Dora one is? Some co-workers embarassed me (she of Brevard County) for not knowing that. But it's not as good as the Tville one?

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Covert Ops

                          The Tville site is the first. Rodney Thompson was the original owner and was the first to pioneer the rock shrimp industry with his own fleet of boats. He also invented the machine that cuts and cleans them. His daughter Lorilee runs the biz now.

                          1. re: brevardbelly

                            That's Thompson of the Thompson boatbuilding family; they built shrimpers, some longliners I think, and yachts. Building and operating shrimpers plus operating a shrimp restaurant all goes together methinks. Started in the mid-'80s if I recall correctly.

                            Around about then rock shrimp could be purchased straight off the boat for about $2 a pound, usually with a little extra shrimp thrown in.

                          2. re: Covert Ops

                            When I talked to Lorilee for the book, she made it pretty clear that Titusville was their original location and that her dad created the machines that split the shrimp for grilling.

                            I recall the Mount Dora location opening several decades ago, but still after the original. And all the info posted below, to my knowledge, is totally accurate.

                            There's also a reference in the Taste of America spot by the JB Fish Camp guys that there are only three of those machines in the county. Seems like there would be money to be made selling them, doesn't there?

                            Bob

                          3. Can i get any of these rock shrimp near Hallandale?

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: spankyhorowitz

                              Check the link above for Wild Ocean Market and get them overnighted to you.

                              They are caught in very few places, I dont' believe anybody has them locally in SoFla...

                            2. The web address for the Wild Ocean Market is http://www.wildoceanmarket.com/ and I believe is owned by the Dixie Crossroads family. Order some Royal Reds while you're at it. They are better than the rock shrimp! Just wondering - ever had a softshell crab - they are delish!

                              1. OK gang, I actually ate at DC for the first time this weekend, and I really loved it.
                                DH dragged me and the two teenagers, because his mom had dragged him there every year for 30-some-odd years.
                                We got there about 7:30 on Saturday night and they said the wait was 35 mins, but we actually got in in about 20. There are tons of places to sit, though it was after dark. In the sun I bet it's none too pleasant. There is a bar outside though. The staff was on it, though, and very happy to seat incomplete parties -- rather insistent on it, as a matter of fact. DH had gone to grab cigarettes when we were called, and they said they'd be happy to get him and direct him to our table. (Granted, he's easy to spot, but I was still surprised they knew who I was with, since I made the reservation alone.)
                                The corn fritters were OK -- I didn't really care for the powdered sugar on top. I prefer straight-up hush puppies that are more savory, but that's just my taste.
                                The restaurant is very large with many rooms, and the decor is a bit loud. The service was very friendly and attentive, though.
                                DH and I split the "Dixie Spectacular," which was a dozen rock shrimp, a dozen scallops (we got both of these fried), a whole Maine lobster and half a dozen snow crab legs, quite a bargain I think at $29.99. It also came with two sides -- they have quite a few. I had a shrimp soup that was kinda gelatinous and heavy on the mirepoix, but still taste. He had a baked sweet potato.
                                Teenage boy had an 8 oz sirloin, cooked to a perfect medium rare, with baked potato and chicken-flavored rice. Teenage girl filled up on pizza earlier so ordered a Caesar salad. Both kids tried our rock shrimp and loved it -- I think getting them fried was a good choice. :-) The other seafood we had was perfectly prepared -- the crab and lobster nearly slid out of their shells, they were so well steamed.
                                The menu's a bit overwhelming -- they have combos of everything, in every kind of preparation. But be sure to get the rock shrimp, because you can't really get them anywhere else. Next time I think I'd like to try them broiled.
                                Plus, the four of us got out of there for about $55 (no booze), which I thought was pretty excellent for the quality of food we got.
                                Dont' go there for the decor, and don't go there for the music. (Pretty heavy on the Randy Travis.) Go there for the food, and the value. And go with a group and share!

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Covert Ops

                                  I remember the day's when DC had all you can eat rock shrimp for something like $20. That was only about 10 years ago....

                                2. Seabreeze Seafood, behind the old restaurant on the 22nd Street Causeway in Tampa, carried rock shrimp, until they closed. They sold 5 pound bags of heads-on, frozen, rock shrimp at $2.50 a pound. There was a lot of waste pulling the heads off, and cleaning them, but it was worth it. We just used a chefs knife to butterfly the tails, basted them with butter, and broiled them. Just like Dixie Crossroads, but in the comfort of our home.

                                  There also used to be street vendors selling them in Cocoa, but I don't get over there any more. My sister just bought some, frozen, cleaned and deveined, in Boynton Beach, at $14 a pound. They were fine in a scampi, but I like them broiled, like little lobster tails.

                                  I sure wish I could find some.

                                  1. The Whale in Parkland offers them on their menu. I know it's not the same as being able to buy them at a market, but they're very reasonable there.

                                    1. When I am in the mood for Rock Shrimp, I head (from Delray) a few miles south on A1A to The Whale's Rib. It's right on A1A, in Deerfield Beach, in that little stretch just over the Boca border where A1A goes East/West for 1 block. This is a casual, crowded, noisy fun type of place with a fishing/surfing/beachside feel to it. Good place to take tourists in winter also as they will get a kick from this Florida-type atmosphere. (Although I actually spend more time across the street at Rattlesnake Jakes, for good Tex-Mex).

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: CFByrne

                                        :D The Whale in Parkland is their sister restaurant. Excellent raw bar and better parking. ;)

                                      2. I remember frozen rock shrimp from growing up in (of all places) Northwest Indiana. My Mom used to buy them as a cheaper alternative to shrimp which, at least back in those days (the 1960s and 1970s), was fantastically expensive in the Midwest. I thought that they were a disappointment because they tasted like shrimp but had a tough, almost stringy, character to them. No doubt they were woefully overcooked, as most of the seafood in the Midwest was. Thanks for the tips. Now, in my old age, I will have to give them a try again. From your descriptions, they sound delicious.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: gfr1111

                                          Aunt Catfish's in Port Orange is advertising rock shrimp specials in the Daytona Beach News Journal.

                                        2. I just had a really nice plate of Rock Shrimp in a Spicy Cream sauce at Toni's Sushi last night. That stuff is the bomb! It was a special, so you may want to hurry. Funny, I have seen it on menus, but never at the store. Call Casablanca on the Miami River, if they don't have it, they probably can get it, or Garcia's right next door.