Still the best but by the hardest…

Good company is even better with good food and I enjoyed both on my recent trip to the Coast. We had a great meal Saturday evening down at Ground Zero. The restaurant had relocated inland and we all but had the place to ourselves – a sign of the economy according to Sop.

Nonetheless my platter of soft shell crab was perfection as was the shrimp I bought the next day from Ly Le to bring back. She’s a shrimp-only seafood shop on wheels parked on the right at the first light passed the site of the former K-Mart location. I had a preview after dinner when we stopped by for a visit with friends of Sop’s and could hardly wait to pick up a cooler and bag of ice on Sunday and head back down to Waveland.

These jumbo beauties were $3.50 a pound which is about a third of what they are here in Jackson. With ten pounds iced down, I headed back – never giving a thought to the work ahead. I’ve now shared with friends; cooked and eaten a wonderful dinner; and tucked in my freezer the only shrimp stock I ever plan to make.

At the top of my to do list today is call someone to repair the fan in the vent over my stove top! Believe me, putting a big pot of shrimp heads on to simmer is no time to find out your fan is out.

You’ll find my favorite shrimp recipe below; but, let’s talk about the $3.50 per pound that Ly Le charges for jumbo when a gallon of gas is higher – higher than shrimp per pound and higher than a gallon of gas a year ago when FEMA issued this press release.

Fishermen are facing income woes unrelated to Katrina: high fuel costs and lower prices for their catches.

“It costs us about $350 for fuel for a 14-hour trip…that and the price per pound for shrimp is less than it was a few years ago.” Imports have driven shrimp prices downward about 50 percent.

There is progress in the recovery of the state’s fishing industry. Mississippi fishermen landed 1.3 million pounds of shrimp in June 2006; shrimp landings increased to 2.4 million pounds in June 2007. “We’re not close to where we were before, but there are little successes going on all over,” …

Successes can be attributed, in part, to the contingent of tough Mississippi fishermen who have endured the ravages of Hurricane Katrina, the economic pressures of imports and are willing to pick up debris, plant oyster beds and anything else to stay afloat.

Katrina didn’t cause all of the shrimp industry’s problems; but, the storm made the difficult situation described in this article from 2002 even more difficult after the storm and, no doubt, even more so with this year’s increases in the cost of gas and labor.

“We’re fighting the world market for shrimp,” says Warren Gautier, vice president, Pascagoula Ice and Freezer Company, Pascagoula. “Things are getting tough.”

Gautier said that the U.S. developed a lot of the technology for producing pondraised shrimp, and then exported that technology through the state department.

“And they come back to beat us up with it,” said Gautier, whose company is a wholesale seafood distributor. “We are being inundated with shrimp with Thailand, China and Brazil, and the Philippines.”

Even though shrimp have now surpassed tuna as the number one seafood consumed by Americans, consumption of shrimp dropped after Sept. 11. That combined with the flood of imports has caused shrimp prices to drop.

Gautier said it is tough for American shrimpers to compete with foreign countries where workers are paid only dollars a day, and where producers and processors have no insurance, OSHA, Social Security and health regulations to deal with.

“Sad to say, in the U.S. we can’t compete anymore,” Gautier said. “We have all the rules applying to us, and our importing neighbors don’t.”

Support the Gulf Coast seafood industry – with your recipe or mine.

Obviously, I’ve had this one for a while. The sauce calls for 1/2 pound of melted butter, 1/4 cup of catsup, 1teaspoon of paprika, 1/2 cup of brown sugar, 3 tablespoons of lemon juice, 2 drops of Tobasco and pepper to taste. Melt butter, mix in all the rest and then add 3/4 pound of shrimp.

Last night, I substituted olive oil for some of the butter and added four cloves of finely chopped garlic after reading a recipe for New Orlean’s BBQ Shrimp from the new cookbook Screen Doors and Sweet Tea. There’s no catsup and brown sugar in this spicier version seasoned with 1 bay leaf, 1/2 teaspoon each of dried thyme, rosemary, and oregano.

However, with that pot of stock simmering, my stomach was on mild and you eat a lot of sauce with either; so, add to the ingredients a loaf of French bread for dipping.

2 thoughts on “Still the best but by the hardest…”

  1. I know one lady that swears her husband is having an affair with Ly Le as much as he is down there.

    I make Barbeque Shrimp with worcester sauce. Olive oil in combo with butter works well too. Here is a good recipe.

    Make some Gumbo out of that stock and you’ll be making it again. 😉


  2. Ha! I can believe it, the fellow she was waiting on when I got there hung around after she showed me the jumbo. When I finished, he ordered some and topped off the large already in his cooler. He was still there when I left!

    Like the recipe you linked. I’ve had mine at least 30 years – think it belonged to the mother of the guy that passed it on. The great part about the one you linked is that it includes reminder to wear a bib and mentions how hard it is to wash this out if it gets on your clothes.

    I’ll get the fan fixed over my stove before I try any more shrimp recipes. Gumbo is on the list – it will have to be real, real good to get me to try more stock!

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