Farmed prawns at Duke’s Seafood?

If you’ve spent any time at Duke’s Seafood, you know that we care about quality, taste, and supporting sustainable farms and fisheries.

Would you be surprised to learn that Duke’s Seafood used to serve farmed prawns? We know, we know, terrible, right?

(cue angry mob)

But here’s the thing. We didn’t understand what we do now. Back then, everybody was raving about Black Tiger Prawns. So we tested them in our kitchens. We thought they were just okay, but guests really wanted them.

Then we learned that most Tiger Prawns served in restaurants are farmed in Asia, and how these farms have been known to pollute their coastal waterways, spread disease, and deplete wild shrimp populations.

We’ll spare you the details, but…those farms are gross. Supporting them went against our core belief of not serving anything that harms the environment.

But what were we to do? Our guests wanted prawns.

So began the Great Prawn Chase. We needed a prawn that tasted great, offered consistent sourcing, and was fished sustainably.

Turns out, that’s a tall order.

“Try Gulf Shrimp!” we heard. So we tried them, but according to Duke, the taste wasn’t right (he’s very picky).

“How about Alaska Spot Prawns?” one of our suppliers asked. And oh, yes, these are taaasty, but they are only good on the day they are caught, and that’s an impossible situation for a restaurant located thousands of miles away from the shrimp boat.

Finally, someone suggested we try prawns from the Sea of Cortez. They’re wild-caught by family-owned trawlers who care about their environment (including the use of specialized equipment that doesn’t harm sea turtles), are processed efficiently, and travel beautifully. And best of all?

They taste amazing.

Fresh, with a hint of the sea, and just enough sweetness. They’re firm and juicy and flavorful. Essentially, they are the perfect prawn.

Sure, there are drawbacks to sourcing these babies sustainably.

Drawback #1: they have to be deveined and shelled onsite, which, if you’ve done this yourself at home, you know it’s a bit of a chore.

But you’re probably only shucking a dozen or so, right?

On an average day, our chefs at Duke’s Seafood sauté, boil, and grill almost 3,000 prawns (in 2018 we served just over 1 million of these beauties).

Drawback #2: they cost more than farmed prawns from Asia. We know this is a painful topic for some. But we can’t cut costs if it means polluting waterways and destroying habitat for wild things. Especially for a prawn we feel is substandard in taste and quality.

For the last fifteen years, we’ve been sourcing our prawns from these family-run trawlers. Our business supports not only their livelihood but a healthy Sea of Cortez.

So next time you bite into a succulent, juicy prawn crafted by one of our chefs, know that there’s more to it than meets the eye (or tastebud). But don’t take our word for it, come taste for yourself! With eight unique and hand-crafted prawn dishes to sample, you’re sure to find something to love.

July 13, 2021
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