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Mayhew's Market Brings You

The Worlds Rarest Shrimp. . .

Royal Reds (Pleoticus Robustus)


What is it: The crowned jewel of shrimp, the Royal Red is a tastier species compared to the Pink, White and Brown varieties. While few had even heard of the Royal Red before the mid-90's, it has since grown to be immensely popular with locals and well informed tourists along the Coast. Royal Red shrimp can be identified by their large size, rich crimson color and their naturally salty and flavorful taste that has been compared to both lobster and bay scallops.

When to get it: While this breed, like other breeds of shrimp, can be found all year long, Royal Red season runs from late summer through the end of fall.

Where does it come from: Because they prefer sandy environments and cool temperatures, the Royal Red shrimp live at distances that reach sixty miles from the Atlantic shoreline and depths that can reach 2500-3000 feet. Only a select few shrimpers are licensed to harvest Royal Reds, which are immediately flash frozen when they're brought on board because of the distances that Royal Red shrimpers must travel. Royal Red shrimp, whether bought from a distributor or ordered at a restaurant, may run a higher price because of their incomparable flavor and texture. Don't be shy when asking your waiter-many coastal restaurants serve Royal Reds but don't list them on the menu.

How it's prepared: Royal Red shrimp can be easily substituted for any shrimp in any standard recipe. However, because they make their home in deeper waters than other shrimps, Royal Reds have a natural saltiness to their taste, so there's no need to add a lot of extra salt to your other ingredients. Make sure you're careful about overcooking when dealing with Royal Reds; these shrimp are naturally a pinkish color even when raw, and they take less time to cook compared the Pinks, Whites or Browns.

Taste One of the Worlds Rarest Shrimp

Larry Olmsted

Special to USA TODAY

Published May 10, 2018

We're celebrating National Shrimp Day with a look back at our Great American Bites column's Beach Blvd Steamer feature. On Mississippi's Gulf Coast, the casual seafood eatery opened in 2014 at the Island View Casino Resort in Gulfport.

If there is one must-try dish at homey Beach Blvd Steamer, it is Royal Red shrimp, described on the menu as "the Coast's Succulent Secret," and that is no exaggeration. The FDA labels 41 species of shellfish as simply "shrimp," and only one, pleoticus robustus, can be sold as Royal Red. Living at unusually extreme depths of 1000-3000 feet, it is known as the King of Shrimp, and is the world's rarest, most prized and arguably most delicious kind. It is only fished in three spots on earth, all in the Gulf or off the Florida Atlantic Coast (though there is a similar shrimp in Argentina). The shrimp are unusually red when raw, hence the name, and sweet, salty, rich and silky when cooked - in a way it tastes more like lobster than competing shrimp.

A Royal Red Caught on Video

Gourmet Lunch
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