Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Our one and only claim to fame

The sign on our shrimp shack appeared in Saveur magazine.
That's it. Those are some painted shrimp up in the corner. Not cockroaches.
The shack was literally a shack. Not a "shack." It was a bucket as only Southeast Alaska would allow. It was in the back of the Napa auto parts store, next to the waste oil and old batteries. The drain pipes emptied under the neighboring coffee shop, owned by the most vile person in town. TDF gleefully dumped icky shrimp water under her building each evening as revenge for running over us out trolling. (We had a 12' skiff. She had a 35' trolling vessel that she regularly pushed us around with.) Anyway, there was a covered table, some sinks, and two propane boilers. The sink for customers was cut into a hollow core door.
Here he is, behind the counter. That tip jar always managed to buy us a 6 pack at the end of the day. Every morning, TDF and his boss, ShrimpBob, would go out at like 330 to trawl for shrimp in front of town. This is in Wrangell where the muddy bottoms near town were perfect drags for four delicious types of shrimp. Oh, and ShrimpBob was what everybody called the guy because there were like 18 Bobs in town.
This is a tote full of fresh shrimp. They are mostly side stripes, pinks and a few coons. The side stripes are the best shrimp on the planet. Large enough to make them worth your time but sweet. They are "vegetarian" shrimp so they eat mostly algae and plankton. (this may or may not be true, it's just what I've been told.) I must have peeled 100 pounds of shrimp per summer there. The work isn't bad if you have beer. Your cuticles suffer a bit. This is a coon. They are larger and a bit more rubbery because the have a more meat-based diet, I think. As you can see, a shrimp is about half meaty tail and half organy head. Southeast Alaska shrimp don't have that vein that runs along the tail quite like the tiger prawns or gulf shrimp do, so they look a bit cleaner when you pull them out of their shell.That is a tub of cocktail sauce. When I showed up, that's usually what I did. Making cocktail sauce in that volume is pretty gross. Whenever you have to use the giant cans of ketchup you reach a different level heeby-jeebys.
Here is a sink full of cooked shrimp. All we would do is scoop out a generous portion out from the cooked batches and dump them on a paper plate. I like their beady eyes.
That, my friends, is a $5 plate of shrimp. It's a generous pound of fresh, sweet-salty shrimp. Gosh, I miss Wrangell shrimp. And Crab. The same muddy bottom the shrimp love is the same muddy habitat that grow great crabs.

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