For those states not as fortunate as Louisiana in accessing Gulf fresh, seasonal seafood - and for the discriminate Louisianans who buy only quality seafood - the next best thing to buying directly from Louisiana fishermen is now coming to doorsteps across the country.
At the beginning of November, Louisiana Direct Seafood Shop, an online market based in Delcambre, introduced a seafood gift box, a seasonally-selected collection of premium, wild-caught seafood, delivered throughout the 48 lower U.S. states.
Currently, the gift box includes one pound each of hand-selected catfish filets, red snapper filets and jumbo lump crabmeat, unseasoned, flash frozen by the fishermen who caught them and ready to cook- with recipes included.
The box items will change just as the seasons for the seafood says Wendell Verret, Director of the Delcambre Seafood & Farmers Market and Port Director of the Twin Parish Port Commission. In the next couple months, Verret says the choices may be grouper, oysters or shrimp (as they become available in the early spring.) The seafood shop will also be on the lookout for unexpected items like calamari.
“We might also start to offer a plate of frozen whole shrimp,” Verret adds “with no chemicals, no sulfates or sodium tripolyphosphates, and not frozen in brine.”
Shipped by FedEx, the seafood gift boxes arrive within two days to ensure premium freshness of the frozen contents, and are priced at $55.50 plus shipping (depending on market price of products). Custom coolers are available upon request.
Seemingly happy to tell their story, the Delcambre Seafood Shop prides itself on being very transparent about the seafoods’ origins so that customers can be assured of product authenticity, sustainability and quality.
Lance Nancio, owner of Anna Marie Seafood in Montegut, La., a long-time shrimper and considered a pioneer in plate-frozen shrimp and other trends in the industry. He’s now added fish, like red snapper, to his catches from the Gulf. Using long lines, instead of nets, he intentionally decreases the bycatch.
Catfish lovers will say there’s nothing like those caught in the Atchafalaya Basin, which is where owners of Fresh Water Seafood in Loreauville, La., Butch and Edna Smith, fish for the wild-caught catfish they supply to the Delcambre Seafood Shop.
Packed crabmeat is arguably considered the jewel of seafoods, in part because many people don’t like to painstakingly pick crabs to get the meat. Here, the work is done for you. The crabmeat in this gift box is from blue points landed in Kaplan by Sheb Callahan, owner of Louisiana Blue Crab, LLC. He steams the meat instead of boiling it to maintain its texture, then vacuum packs it for longer freezer shelf life.
With many companies shipping frozen seafood these days, Verret says the Louisiana Direct Seafood line stands out from the competition. “Our seafood is caught and packed by the fishermen themselves. It’s not readily available as a volume distributed item. It’s organic with no chemicals, which is evident in the taste. And, it’s close to the source, so prices are at least half that of seafoods sold on Amazon.”
There are some 150 commercial fishing boats in St. Mary, Iberia and Vermilion Parishes, the majority of them are shrimpers – second and third generational. Each year, Verret says they sell approximately 250,000 to 300,000 pounds of shrimp from their boats.
Although still new to the market, the boxes have already been ordered or received by consumers from Texas to Ohio and New York - with many locals placing orders. “Our first customer was local and sent us a comment saying he was ‘happy to be able to support the local fishing industry with his purchase. Louisiana Seafood Direct is a way to help the fishermen packing and selling their own products by providing an outlet to sell them nationwide,” Verret says.