Texas Brown Shrimp in South Padre and Port Isabel

Two days in South Padre looking for a source of seafood to support a new property and my own fascination with food. Aside from eating at four restaurants on the island and one in Port Isabel, all serve things fried. Texas Brown Shrimp applying to most of the real estate on the menu but limited in its preparation. First stop was Joe Castillo’s place the Gulf Seafood Market, we were the only customers at 8:30 am by by 11 the line was out the door. Penny at Twin City Shrimp was a gem, so full of hospitality and history, generous with her time and stories of shrimping, the proud heritage beaming. Most of the photos below are of her boats. Every shrimper sells to Texas Pack, a few blocks away where we saw the process of delivery from that mornings boats to the dock, the freezers and counters the sorting and packing. Well documented operation and not far from the source. Why would one ever buy imported shrimp?

What I have learned about shrimping:

The product overseas, particularly from Southeast Asia is not healthy, the regulations are not as strict and recently the tiger shrimp, black and white both suffered a disease. Most of the shrimp are harvested and farmed in brackish waters, often starved before harvesting to eliminate the need for cleaning the vein and thus filtering more water and waste. Plus my theory on the shrimp farms and tsunamis… Not so ecologically responsible when the swells come in to this low lying land and not always reliable as to the country of origin as there are few packing plants. Shrimp don’t have a license plate.

Shrimp from the Gulf are generational fisherman, mostly brown shrimp up the coast to Louisiana. Although deisel fuel and shrimp are subsidized in Mexico, the competition is rare. Shrimp boats leave for 30-45 days at a time, sometimes less, usually with a crew of 3-6 hands.

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