What Are The Types of Shrimp in Florida?
With a Focus on Key West Pinks
Florida shrimp may be one of the most common menu items you will find anywhere on the peninsula. Yet there are many different options. Find the best Florida shrimp with a little knowledge about these delicate morsels.
There are over 2000 species of shrimp. Saltwater, freshwater, rivers, lakes – almost everybody of water may have a few varieties of those tasty
Many species of shrimp are ornamental that you will see in aquariums or while diving or snorkeling along the coast or sub-tropical waters. Other shrimp may be microscopic and not considered more than food for fish and other predators.
Just a Half-Dozen Harvested Types of Shrimp in Florida
Shrimp is an important part of Florida’s multi-billion dollar seafood harvest annually. While there are a few hundred species around the world harvested for food, here in Florida we only have about a half dozen sold commercially.
Widely scattered throughout Florida are white shrimp which make up a big portion of the shrimp brought in by shrimpers. From Destin to St. Augustine, most shrimp sold commercially found in coastal waters are white shrimp.
Then, there are pink shrimp found in Gulf coastal waters and most parts of the world.
Of course, the hard-shelled rock shrimp and royal red shrimp are found in deeper waters. Royal red shrimp are known for their lobster-like flavor when served warm with drawn butter.
Unique Florida Shrimp Around Key West
There is another type of shrimp in Florida found in waters around Key West and the Tortugas called Key West Pink Shrimp.
These sweet-tasting Key West “Pinks” decapods are found in deep Key West waters at night. They, like most pink shrimp, are great for peel-and-eat presentations and need no flavoring.
Most Key West Pink Shrimp have a little dark pinkish circle on the back third of the shell. The distinctive sweet flavor and tender meat set Key West pinks above all other types of shrimp in Florida.
Many say the distinctive color comes from the pink coral around Key West waters that the shrimp munch on. Other legends say these particular shrimp were found in 1949 by accident while a shrimper happened to trawl in a specific area late one night.
Don’t be fooled, once you taste and compare Key West Pinks to other types of shrimp in Florida, you will know the difference!
Known to serve Key West Pinks in Key West include Sloppy Joe’s on Duval Street, Half Shell Raw Bar over by Key West Bight Marina, Louie’s Back Porch at the south end of Duval Street, Blue Heaven over near Bahama Village and Hogfish Bar & Grill over on Stock Island.
We are sure there are others and just send us a note to include their restaurant names.
A simple recipe for Key West Pinks is below.
2 pounds of Key West Pink Shrimp, head off and tail on.
3 quarts of boiling water
1 Tablespoon of Old Bay Seasoning added to water
2 teaspoons of Salt added to water
Place shrimp in hard boiling seasoned water It takes no more than 2-3 minutes for the shrimp to be fully cooked and ready to quickly be doused in cold water to stop the cooking.
If you have larger shrimp (under 16 per pound) you can ad 30-40 seconds to the cooking time. You can serve them cold or hot with lemon (why lemon is beyond me!). Any Florida shrimp will work, but the Key West Pinks are the best.
Other types of shrimp in Florida can be used in the recipe above.