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Foong Xia Ha


jhirshon
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Greetings all - a brand-new member here, very much looking forward to contributing to the forums and eGullet - but first a request.

Mayflower restaurant in Milpitas, CA (a wonderfully authentic Cantonese establishment) offers an off-menu item, prepared on request, called 'foong xia ha' (My Chinese is exceedingly poor, so forgive what is possibly a poor transliteration).

It is a shrimp dish (xia), stir-fried with toasted ground garlic and ground hot chili peppers - it is absolutely superb and I would dearly love both a recipe for it and the proper Chinese characters so I can properly request it from a waiter.

You all have a wonderful resource here - I've spent most of my life scouring the Web and old cookbooks for the most authentic and best recipes for any given dish and cuisine, and look forward to hopefully adding this one to my database with your kind assistance. :)

cheers, JH

Edited by jhirshon (log)
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Greetings all - a brand-new  member here, very much looking forward to contributing to the forums and eGullet - but first a request.

You all have a wonderful resource here - I've spent most of my life scouring the Web and old cookbooks for the most authentic and best recipes for any given dish and cuisine, and look forward to hopefully adding this one to my database with your kind assistance. :)  cheers, JH

Welcome to the forum, JH :smile:

I'm sure you'll get answers to your request. Lots of knowledgeable people here in eGullet.

Look forward to trying out your ideas! :biggrin:

Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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Mayflower restaurant in Milpitas, CA (a wonderfully authentic Cantonese establishment) offers an off-menu item, prepared on request, called 'foong xia ha' (My Chinese is exceedingly poor, so forgive what is possibly a poor transliteration).

JH:

First of all, welcome to eGullet!

I have been to that Mayflower restaurant in Milpitas too. (They have one in San Francisco also). Very good indeed. A brand name in Hong Kong and they opened shop in the USA.

The dish name 'Foong Xia Ha' is Cantonese. Foong means "wind", Xia means "sand", Ha means "shrimp". But don't let the name fool you. "Foong Xia" can mean many different ways of cooking. Different restaurants do it differently and I have not observed any consistency. For example, one restaurant in Sacramento serves a dish called "Foong Xia Gai" (Gai means chicken in Cantonese) and all it is, is Cantonese Fried Chicken with shredded green onion and light soy sauce poured on top.

From your descriptions, the dish you had is probably just "shrimp with pepper and garlic". It is pretty easy to make, but to make it well requires a high power burner (intense heat). You deep-fry (or fry) the shrimp (with shell on) first. Remove and drain oil. Then on a wok, use 2 tblsp of oil, wait until really hot, throw in minced garlic (5 to 6 cloves), chili slices (1 to 2 chili), add salt, a quick dash of cooking wine, then return the shrimp, toss and stir for 30 sec to 1 minute. That's it. In the restaurant kitchen setting, the garlic can turn crispy from the intense heat. Hard to do at home.

Edited by hzrt8w (log)
W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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Outstanding - many thanks for your cogent reply! :)

In the Mayflower version, the hot pepper is minced (similar consistency to salt and pepper shrimp, i.e. very fine mince). Worth sampling should you find yourself in Milpitas. :)

I look forward to being a regular here - xie xie! :)

cheers, JH

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If you add the oil to the HOT wok, then let the oil get smoky before adding the garlic, you CAN get crispy garlic.

I would suggest taking the crispy garlic out and let it drain on paper towel. Add the minced chili, ginger, then the shrimp. Finish cooking in the garlicky oil and plate. Then, top the dish with the crispy garlic so they will remain crispy.

The garlic flavour is already in the oil, so you achieve the flavour and texture this way.

Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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I had a dish called "Da-Mo Feng-Sha(Desert Storm) Chicken" in New York. It was a dry chicken dish with lots of garlic. I am not sure that the same style you had.

The chef toasted the minced garlic first, and then stir fried chuncky fresh chicken with them and pretty much of salt in a wok which only had a small amount of oil. The dry garlic had amaing taste, and the smell was great too.

Second time, the chef gave me the dry ribs in "Desert Storm" style, and I like it better because it has more meat than chicken.

"All the way to heaven is heaven."

___Said by St. Catherine of Sienna.

Let's enjoy life, now!

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I had a dish called "Da-Mo Feng-Sha(Desert Storm) Chicken" in New York. It was a dry chicken dish with lots of garlic. I am not sure that the same style you had.

That's how I understand the dish title too. "Feng-Sha" [Mandarin] or "Foong Xia" [Cantonese] means wind and sand (desert). And the dish (chicken or other meat) should be dry.

But I think many restaurants have misused the title. I cited the example of having a "Foong Xia Gai" being boiling oil pour on top of green onions laid on Cantonese Fried Chicken.

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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GOLDEN SANDS TOPPING FOR FRIED SEAFOOD – Hong Kong Style

This preparation can easily be prepared at home. There is absolutely no need for especially high heat or a wok stove.

Prep the garlic: Finely mince 1 cup of peeled garlic cloves by hand or in a food chopper and transfer to a mixing bowl. Add 1 T of cornstarch and mix until the garlic is coated with the starch and none is visible in the bowl.

Fry the garlic: In a small wok or saucepan heat 1 cup of vegetable until it is moderately hot, about 300 degrees F. With the heat turned to its highest level, add all the garlic at once, and using a whisk, gently swirl the garlic in the oil until it starts to color. This should take a minute or two. As soon as the garlic is a light golden color immediately drain it, and transfer the fried garlic to paper toweling to absorb the extra oil. The garlic will continue to cook and darken in color after being removed from the oil, so don’t be afraid to remove it while it’s still lightly colored. By the way, this oil is now garlic-flavored and delicious for cooking.

Season the fried garlic: Preheat a clean, dry wok until it is hot but not smoking. Add 1t crushed red pepper to the wok and as soon as it becomes fragrant add the golden fried garlic and 1t salt (and 1/2t MSG if you use it). Turn off the heat, toss a few times, then use as a topping for fried seafood such as shrimp, squid, lobster, soft and hard crab. As a variation, you can also add some ground pepper, black, white, or fagara (sichuan peppercorn powder) or even a touch of five-spice powder. You could also add your fried seafood to the wok and toss it with the spices rather than just pouring garlic topping over the seafood.

Substitute: Instead of crushed red pepper you can use sliced or chopped fresh chili as well as a little chopped scallion.

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I feel that the most important ingredient in all these adaption of Shrimp or Prawn Dishes being mentioned is the Shellfish.

In all the Hong Kong Chinese Restaurants that are well known for "Foong Xia Ha" always use Frozen or Fresh Ocean Shrimps or Prawns. In Canada or the USA this is also preferred with Gulf or Mexican Shrimps most popular when available but using the several type of farmed Shrimps or Prawns are not considered since they don't have the texture or sweet flavor thats from saltwater Shrimps or Prawns.

It also seems that any Prawn or Shrimp caught in deeper cooler waters taste better. The Spanish Red or Hawaiian varieties are good examples.

The two types of Mexican/Gulf Shrimps or Prawns most popular with Chinese Chefs are the "Ocean Garden" or similar, both the Whites or Browns.

Compare the Tiger Prawns with Ocean Prawns both cooked the same way and you will immediately notice the difference.

Irwin

I don't say that I do. But don't let it get around that I don't.

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GOLDEN SANDS TOPPING FOR FRIED SEAFOOD – Hong Kong Style

This preparation can easily be prepared at home. There is absolutely no need for especially high heat or a wok stove.

Prep the garlic: Finely mince 1 cup of peeled garlic cloves by hand or in a food chopper and transfer to a mixing bowl. Add 1 T of cornstarch and mix until the garlic is coated with the starch and none is visible in the bowl.

Fry the garlic: In a small wok or saucepan heat 1 cup of vegetable until it is moderately hot, about 300 degrees F. With the heat turned to its highest level, add all the garlic at once, and using a whisk, gently swirl the garlic in the oil until it starts to color. This should take a minute or two. As soon as the garlic is a light golden color immediately drain it, and transfer the fried garlic to paper toweling to absorb the extra oil. The garlic will continue to cook and darken in color after being removed from the oil, so don’t be afraid to remove it while it’s still lightly colored. By the way, this oil is now garlic-flavored and delicious for cooking.

Season the fried garlic: Preheat a clean, dry wok until it is hot but not smoking. Add 1t crushed red pepper to the wok and as soon as it becomes fragrant add the golden fried garlic and 1t salt (and 1/2t MSG if you use it). Turn off the heat, toss a few times, then use as a topping for fried seafood such as shrimp, squid, lobster, soft and hard crab. As a variation, you can also add some ground pepper, black, white, or fagara (sichuan peppercorn powder) or even a touch of five-spice powder. You could also add your fried seafood to the wok and toss it with the spices rather than just pouring garlic topping over the seafood.

Substitute: Instead of crushed red pepper you can use sliced or chopped fresh chili as well as a little chopped scallion.

eatingwitheddie - you hit the nail on the head, this is almost assuredly what I had at Mayflower - THANK YOU! :) Now if we can just get these in Chinese characters (i.e. Golden Sands topping Shrimp) we're in business! :)

cheers, JH

cheers, JH

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In all the Hong Kong Chinese Restaurants that are well known for "Foong Xia Ha" always use Frozen or Fresh Ocean Shrimps or Prawns. In Canada or the USA this is also preferred with Gulf or Mexican Shrimps most popular when available but using the several type of farmed Shrimps or Prawns are not considered since they don't have the texture or sweet flavor thats from saltwater Shrimps or Prawns.

It also seems that any Prawn or Shrimp caught in deeper cooler waters taste better. The Spanish Red or Hawaiian varieties are good examples.

The two types of Mexican/Gulf Shrimps or Prawns most popular with Chinese Chefs are the "Ocean Garden" or similar, both the Whites or Browns.

Compare the Tiger Prawns with Ocean Prawns both cooked the same way and you will immediately notice the difference.

Irwin

In Wuliangye, we use the U15 from Ocean Garden. It means for one pound of shrimp the number must fewer than 15. I think that was the largest side from Ocean Garden. Seven pieces in each order serves you about ½ pound shrimp.

We used Tiger prawn once to substitute it couple of years ago, for price consideration. After that we got so many complaints, we stopped. In my opinion, for “Desert Storm Shrimp”风沙虾style the type of shrimp doesn’t affect the taste that much, but if you wan to steam the prawn with fresh garlic “蒜茸蒸虾“, better take the one has the best quality.

OK, let’s talk about shrimp.

Totally 342 species of shrimp worldwide have commercial value and them fallen into three basic groups: warm water shrimp, freshwater shrimp, and coldwater shrimp.

I. Warm water shrimp are categorized by the color of their shell (not the meat) when raw: White, brown, pink, and black tiger.

1. White Shrimp

Mexico has a large white shrimp fishery on the Pacific coast. This shrimp is famous for its sweet taste and firm texture. White shrimp have grayish-white shells that turn pink when cooked. (The shells of farm-raised white shrimp are lighter grayish-white and from some origins, the shell is not as thick as wild-caught whites.) The thinner shell is the result of feed composition as well as growth in captivity.

In general, cooked wild or farmed white shrimp have flesh with pink skin tones. Wild-caught white shrimp have a sweet taste and firm, almost "crunchy" meat. Farm-raised whites may have a slightly milder flavor, and depending upon growing conditions, may have a less firm texture. Shrimp in the wild were feed by crustaceans and seaweed, which enrich their flavor and strengthen their shells. Plus, the "wild" ones are "free swimmers" which firms up their flesh.

2. Brown Shrimps from some areas of the U.S. Gulf coast primarily feed on iodine-rich kelp, which gives them a hearty "iodine-y" flavor; while brown shrimp from areas along the west coast of Mexico do not have the same feeding grounds, and hence, their flavor is milder. This West Coast Mexican brown shrimp is a prized commodity in Japan. Brown shrimp have firm, dense meat.

3. Pink shrimp are wild-caught in the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean and Central American waters. Their light pink shells have a pearl-like texture and some have a distinguishing pink dot on the head. When cooked, the shells turn a deeper shade of pink and the meat white with pink skin tones. The texture is firm and flavor mild.

4. Black Tiger shrimp were raised primarily in Asian countries and Australia; they are called black tiger shrimp due to their distinctive black-and-gray striped shells when raw.

When cooked, the shell of a black tiger turns bright red and the meat white with deep red skin tones. Black tigers have higher moisture content than white, pink, or brown shrimp. As a result, they shrink more when cooked, and the flavor is very mild. Additionally, their texture is considered less dense than their relatives. Some raw tigers are a blue shade with yellow feelers and are referred to as "blue tigers." They are the same species as the black tiger, but their feed does not contain the iron that causes the darker color.

II. Freshwater shrimp are the live shrimp we saw in the Chinese supermarket.

They are a separate species that may be characterized by bright blue shells or, if they come from Asia, rich yellow with brown striped shells. One of the largest shrimp, they have long claws, can grow over a foot long, and can weigh over a pound. Freshwater shrimp are both wild-caught and farm-raised. When cooked, they have a very mild taste and soft, gray-white flesh and a very soft texture. Whole freshwater shrimp are seen as a specialty item and often sold live for display in restaurant tanks.

III. Coldwater shrimp have numerous names: bay shrimp, tiny shrimp, baby shrimp, pink shrimp, cooked & peeled, salad shrimp, coldwater shrimp. The meat is white with skin tones that range in color from pale pink to a rich, reddish-pink. Coldwater shrimp are small in comparison with warm water species; yet take four to five years to reach maturity. Most come to the U.S. market cooked and peeled and range in size from 150 to 500 shrimp per pound. Coldwater shrimp have a sweet taste and soft texture.

"All the way to heaven is heaven."

___Said by St. Catherine of Sienna.

Let's enjoy life, now!

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QUOTE(jhirshon @ Jan 3 2006, 07:32 PM)

[...] Now if we can just get these in Chinese characters (i.e. Golden Sands topping Shrimp) we're in business! :)

風沙蝦

I agree, but in New York, the "Golden Sand Prawn" refers 金沙大虾, which is a crispy prawn with golden egg yolk (preserved duck egg).

That is another amazing dish...

"All the way to heaven is heaven."

___Said by St. Catherine of Sienna.

Let's enjoy life, now!

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This discussion about shrimp was such an amazing coincidence, because I was debating where in eGullet to post this rather sad article:

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/21/dining/2...?pagewanted=all

December 21, 2005

A Brighter View Astern Than Over the Bow

By KIM SEVERSON

Perhaps eGulleteers already know of this or similar cases, but I was hoping that some of our members with restaurant connections could give these folks a hand.

Especially, gourmet Chinese and Japanese establishments with their emphasis on top quality fresh shrimp might find small fishing families like the ones mentioned here to handily meet their needs. These top restaurants need not necessarily be in New York or points far removed from Louisiana; I am sure there are places in Texas or in the South that could take advantage of the wild shrimp and excellent sizes offered by these folk.

Even with the smaller sizes, i know that the shell-on wild shrimp would enjoy a premium in certain Indian regional cuisines, but doubt that these are as yet well-developed enough in the US to offer the requisite prices. OTOH, there must now exist a critical mass of sophisticated lovers of Chinese foods, including an affluent Chinese community. who might enjoy these smaller shell-on shrimp in precisely such dishes as are being discussed here.

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Result of clicking link:

Page Not Found

The page you've requested does not exist at this address.

V, could you please quote or paraphrase something from the article to let us know what it's about? Overfishing (-shrimping, etc.), I suppose?

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Hi Pan,

Thanks for the heads-up. Am appending the full text; will be violating copyright, probably, and request the moderator to edit this post until guidelines are satisfied.

Include the full text so that readers may forward it to others who may be able to be of help.

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/21/dining/2...?pagewanted=all

December 21, 2005

A Brighter View Astern Than Over the Bow

By KIM SEVERSON

Chalmette, La.

IT'S early morning on a marshy stretch of water that runs east from New Orleans to the Gulf of Mexico. Ray Brandhurst, who has known nothing but the Louisiana shrimping life, is three cans of iced tea and a dozen Kools into his day.

On the rear deck of the 50-foot shrimp boat he built by hand - a boat that Hurricane Katrina sent halfway to the bottom of Bayou Bienvenue - Mr. Brandhurst jerks a line securing a green mesh net.

All at once a thousand pounds of wild white shrimp, each about the length of a ball point pen and kicking for its life, pours onto the deck and buries his stubby white shrimper boots.

"We're having our Bubba Gump moment, all right," says Mr. Brandhurst, who can't resist quoting from the movie "Forrest Gump."

Those shrimp, fat from the marsh debris stirred up by both Katrina and Rita and as plentiful as Mr. Brandhurst has seen in his 30 years of shrimping, are about all he has left.

Like many men and women who made their living pulling oysters and shrimp from the waters of Southeast Louisiana, the Brandhurst family was laid flat by Katrina. A wall of water 25 feet high wiped out nearly every home, boat and business in Chalmette and surrounding St. Bernard Parish, about a half-hour drive from downtown New Orleans.

More than three months after the storm, the parish remains a moldy, wrecked shell of what was home to 70,000 people, most of whom made their living from the water.

The Brandhursts' four-bedroom ranch house in Chalmette, the largest community in the parish, sat in water for weeks. Down the street, he and his wife, Kay, ran a retail shop called Rebel Seafood, where for 20 years they peeled shrimp, cut fish and boiled seafood. It's gone too. So are thousands of family snapshots and two generations of recipes, including a handwritten cookbook that doubled as a family journal for Ray's mother. Those are what Kay misses the most.

The couple and their children are squished into a one-bedroom apartment in an ugly New Orleans subdivision, an hour's drive from the boat and their old lives. Within weeks the shrimp will stop running for the season and the Bubba Gump moment will be over. The Brandhursts, one of the last Louisiana wild-shrimp families, will have to figure out if they have enough insurance and fortitude to scrape together a new life or salvage one in an industry that was dying even before the hurricanes.

"When this is over we have no income," said Mr. Brandhurst, 48, explaining why he spends 18 hours every day shrimping. "I can't afford to walk away from it. I've got four kids."

In a way Katrina was just one more blow to the industry. For years rising fuel costs and falling prices have eaten away at what little profit shrimpers made.

America transferred its affection from domestic to imported shrimp years ago. Now imports make up as much as 88 percent of the market, most of them from places like Vietnam, Ecuador, Thailand and China. Plenty of imported shrimp are farm-raised, and batches have tested positive for antibiotics banned for use in the United States.

But fishmongers at places like the Fulton Fish Market in New York say Gulf shrimp are inconsistent in both flavor and size. The shrimp have thin, harder-to-peel shells. Some taste of the iodine-rich kelp they eat. Imported shrimp, on the other hand, are bred to have thicker shells and less delicate flesh. They are easier to care for and sell.

Ask Mr. Brandhurst about imported or farmed shrimp, and he'll shoot you a look.

"They have tweaked the genetics on them so much they're a commodity now, like soybeans," he said.

The market has changed, too. People don't have as much time to cook, he said. "They don't want to spend half an hour peeling shrimp before they start cooking."

In Florida and Texas some companies farm shrimp organically, with an eye to limiting environmental damage. The bulk of the nation's domestic wild shrimp still come from big factory trawlers working the Gulf's open waters. Texas shrimp tend to be larger than most, and Florida produces firm wild pink shrimp that have a certain appeal.

The ones taken off Louisiana, where two-thirds of the vessels are 50 feet long or less, tend to be smaller. But Mr. Brandhurst, along with plenty of cooks in Baton Rouge and New Orleans, will tell you that what comes from Louisiana waters is the sweetest of all the Gulf shrimp.

Louisiana, second only to Alaska in the amount of seafood that hits its piers, produces the most domestic shrimp. In 2004 Louisiana took about 120 million pounds out of the water.

But with less than a quarter of the shrimpers back in business and most of the state's processing centers knocked out, the catch might reach only 60 million pounds in 2006, said Ewell Smith, executive director of the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board. And though shrimp are plentiful now, there's no telling how much damage the habitat sustained.

"We lost as much marshland between these two storms as we would have lost over 45 years," Mr. Smith said.

Mr. Brandhurst, who bought his first shrimp boat at 15, has been watching the business slip for a decade. In the 1980's and early 1990's, he recalled, maybe 400 shrimp boats worked the lakes and bayous between New Orleans and the Gulf. The numbers kept dropping, and just before Katrina hit fewer than 100 remained. Now he pretty much has the water to himself.

The Louisiana oystermen might have it worse. In 2004 about two-thirds of this country's 750,000 million pounds of in-shell oysters were "Gulf easterns." Louisiana produced most of those. The 2006 harvest will be down at least 60 percent, said Mike Voisin, a lifelong oysterman who runs an industry-government partnership called the Louisiana Oyster Task Force.

Many of the state's oysters were killed by the hurricane's huge silt deposits. The storm was so violent, thousands of acres of oyster beds and reefs were smashed and will have to be rebuilt and restocked.

Although Mr. Voisin said that plenty of oysters will be available for holiday feasts, the extent of the damage hasn't yet sunk in.

"I still wipe my eyes when I talk about it," he said. "You think back on all that these people have been through, the shock of it. People just can't get focused. They can't set a direction."

But like the shrimpers, the oystermen are driven to rebuild their industry. And that means defending southeast Louisiana seafood with an attitude that is part pride and part defiance. At a place like Domilise's po' boy shop in the Uptown neighborhood of New Orleans or at the Bourbon House oyster bar in the French Quarter, ask where the seafood is from and the answer is, "It better be from Louisiana."

Outside the state, the nation is feeling a little squeamish about Louisiana seafood. "When the people saw the city being dewatered and the press labeled it toxic soup, that just killed our seafood sales," Mr. Smith said.

But things are looking up. All of the state's two million acres of oyster beds are open, damaged or not. On Dec. 8 a team of health inspectors from the state, the Food and Drug Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration declared that hundreds of samples taken out of estuaries near New Orleans and all the way over to the Gulf shores of Alabama showed that the seafood was safe.

The truest test of Louisiana's seafood might be from the people in New Orleans who are eating it, which is pretty much whoever can afford it or find a restaurant with enough shuckers to keep the oysters coming.

For Mrs. Brandhurst, shrimp is the staple on her table. Before Katrina, every other dinner she fed her children was shrimp or, in the off-season, boiled or stuffed crawfish. They were sick of it.

Two months after the storm, when Mr. Brandhurst had finally refloated his boat and pulled in his first load of shrimp, he took a bag back to the family's small apartment.

Mrs. Brandhurst fried them, making po' boys on whole wheat buns because the New Orleans bakeries that bake the classic crisp-shell French po' boy bread weren't back in business yet. The children, age 4 to 13, went crazy for them. "They want it every night now," she said.

Shrimping, at least the way Mr. Brandhurst does it, is pretty straightforward. Running his boat slow, he eases his net off the back of the boat. Two platforms of wood and metal drag it along the bottom, stretching it out to about 50 feet wide.

A little more than an hour later, Mr. Brandhurst winches in the net, dangling it over the deck like a seven-foot-high provolone cheese. Along with the shrimp, it is filled with marsh grass, stumps and a by-catch of things like ribbonfish, flounder, and blue crabs. They used to sell the crabs and fillet some of the fish.

But not today: everything that isn't a shrimp is thrown back into the water.

"What I'm going for is volume," Mr. Brandhurst said. On this day, he would pull in about 4,000 pounds of shrimp over 10 hours.

"Before, if you even got 1,000 pounds you'd say you had a good day," said Dustin Locascio, 28, who, after losing his own shrimp boat, is working as Mr. Brandhurst's deckhand.

With so many processors closed and most of his customers in New Orleans gone, Mr. Brandhurst's only hope is to sell enough to the few remaining buyers within driving distance. They sell the shrimp to processors, who resell some of them whole but peel and freeze most.

The biggest shrimp he can find now bring as much as $1.25 a pound. In a New York neighborhood fish market, the same size shrimp - from Ecuador - sell for $9.99 a pound without the head on. The smaller ones, which Mr. Brandhurst catches toward the end of the day, might bring him as little as 80 cents a pound. By mixing his catches, he calculates that he will average $1 a pound, maybe a nickel more.

On days with a haul this big, a difference of 25 cents a pound can translate to $1,000. In his post-Katrina world, that's a small fortune.

It's Mrs. Brandhurst's job to get the shrimp to the buyers, and it's some of the most exhausting work she's done.

Her day starts before dawn, when she gets Mr. Brandhurst off to the boat. One daughter is on an academic scholarship at the University of Miami, but she has three other children to run to their new schools. She drives them in a truck filled with ice and the shrimp Mr. Brandhurst caught the day before, then goes and sells shrimp until they are out of school.

"You've got to do what you've got to do, girl," she said. "You work for 20 years on a business, and you wake up the next day and all you've got is two changes of clothes and four dependents and not even a pan to fry an egg in."

Two days a week she sells her shrimp at farmers' markets that have reopened in less damaged areas in and around New Orleans. On a recent Tuesday at the Crescent City market in the relatively intact and upscale Uptown neighborhood, she used a rusty scale to weigh out medium-size shrimp at $3 a pound. Some customers, looking much more put-together than Mrs. Brandhurst, complained about their small size and asked if she was peeling them for customers.

"No, darlin'," Mrs. Brandhurst said, exhausted but still polite. "We're not peeling yet." When they walked away, Mrs. Brandhurst muttered, "Uptown people."

The bulk of the shrimp, and the real money, come from the buyers who sell to the factories. The one who was an hour and a half away closed up shop Saturday. The one three hours away plans to stop selling on Wednesday. That means Mr. Brandhurst will be off the water until after Christmas, when the factories might reopen. He's hoping the Bubba Gump moment lasts that long.

"It's killing me," he said.

For the long term, Mr. Brandhurst thinks that the upscale shoppers, not the factories, might be the family's only hope. His figures his shrimp will get the best price from cooks who increasingly want wild and natural foods from small producers.

He holds up a big shrimp - what a creative menu writer might call a wild hand-caught Louisiana jumbo Gulf prawn - and asks how much people in New York might pay for it. A lot. Maybe $12 or $14 a pound, really fresh. He shakes his head. The Brandhursts will get a dollar or so a pound for shrimp that size.

But these days, a dollar a pound is a dollar a pound. With nothing left but a failing shrimp boat, a couple of trucks and the promise of a little insurance money, surviving has meant taking charity from people the Brandhursts never thought they'd have to turn to.

First there was the large fleet of Vietnamese shrimpers, whom Mr. Brandhurst used to view as competition until they let him live on their boats while he rebuilt his. ("You realize what's really inside people," he said.) Then he had to sign his family up for food stamps. ("That was humbling, let me tell you," he said.)

And finally he got $2,450 from the Carmel, Calif., chapter of the culinary organization Slow Food. That happened after Poppy Tooker, who runs the Slow Food chapter in New Orleans, saw a newspaper photograph of Mr. Brandhurst trying to save his boat at the same time Gabriela Forte, who runs the Carmel chapter, was looking for a family to help with proceeds from a gumbo fund-raiser.

The Brandhursts, though still puzzled about what Slow Food might be, are in awe of that simple gesture of transcontinental generosity. Without that cash, to repair an engine, they would have missed much of the post-hurricane harvest. And Ms. Forte is planning another fund-raiser for Jan. 27.

Still, the Brandhursts don't know if they will be able to keep shrimping. The coming winter, with no shrimp to catch and no other income, will be a long one. They could look for jobs gutting people's houses or cooking for work crews, but the pay isn't enough to justify the hours. And they don't want to move their children into what would be their fourth school of the year.

Shrimping is all they know.

Still, the truth creeps in. It might be time to move on.

"I say I'm going to rebuild, but I won't have any customers," Mr. Brandhurst said. "It's gone."

REBEL SEAFOOD

Chalmette

504-271-7404

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America transferred its affection from domestic to imported shrimp years ago. Now imports make up as much as 88 percent of the market, most of them from places like Vietnam, Ecuador, Thailand and China. Plenty of imported shrimp are farm-raised, and batches have tested positive for antibiotics banned for use in the United States.

How about Mexico? Mexican state owned Ocean Garden Products is a leading seafood importer based in San Diego, California.

Founded in 1957, Ocean Garden is a founding member of the Mexican Shrimp Council (www.mexicanshrimp.org), a bi-national coalition consisting of Mexican Shrimp producers, processors, suppliers and marketers. With over 500 members representing more than 50 million pounds of shrimp in Mexico were produced and the US consumed the majority of them.

Those shrimp, fat from the marsh debris stirred up by both Katrina and Rita and as plentiful as Mr. Brandhurst has seen in his 30 years of shrimping, are about all he has left.

It sounds like a sad story related with the post-Katrina theme, but don’t you believe that situation would come to Brandhurst family later even without Katrina.

In my opinion, catching seafood is an industry with high risk and high profit. The external environment has been stable for 30 years. Why don’t they have a plan for the “raining days?” They had enough time —30 years, and enough money —when

these days, a dollar a pound is a dollar a pound.

I am working in a restaurant in NY, and I like the shrimp price keep declining. On the other hand, as a shrimp business man, Brandhurst family should have a new way to think about the world: If buy shrimp from someone is even cheaper than catch them by ourselves, why don't we just by from them and sell to the market to get higher profit. They should update themselves while the outside of the world is changing.

Let me give them an example. When the cost of oil and other resources went up, ConEdison shifted itself from a mix of producer and distributor to a totally energy distributor. It buys electricity instead make some of them by itself, for reduce the risk and generate higher revenue. I understand Brandhurst's hard situation, but I don't agree with they waste too much time on fund raising or try to lobby the politicians to get more domestic trade protection.

We can not change the direction of the world moving toward, but we can take advantage from it.

"All the way to heaven is heaven."

___Said by St. Catherine of Sienna.

Let's enjoy life, now!

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    • By liuzhou
      Sea fish in my local supermarket
       
       
      In the past I've started a few topics focusing on categorised food types I find in China. I’ve done
       
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      Supermarket Freshwater Fish Tanks

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      草鱼 (cǎo yú) - Ctenopharyngodon idella - grass carp
       
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    • By liuzhou
      Big Plate Chicken - 大盘鸡 (dà pán jī)
       

       
      This very filling dish of chicken and potato stew is from Xinjiang province in China's far west, although it is said to have been invented by a visitor from Sichuan. In recent years, it has become popular in cities across China, where it is made using a whole chicken which is chopped, with skin and on the bone, into small pieces suitable for easy chopstick handling. If you want to go that way, any Asian market should be able to chop the bird for you. Otherwise you may use boneless chicken thighs instead.

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      Cinnamon, 1 stick

      Bay leaves, 5 or 6

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      Heat the wok and add three tablespoons cooking oil. Add the ginger, garlic, star anise, cinnamon stick, bay leaves, Sichuan peppercorns and chilies. Fry on a low heat for a  minute or so. If they look about to burn, splash a little water into your wok. This will lower the temperature slightly. Add the chicken and turn up the heat. Continue frying until the meat is nicely seared, then add the potatoes and carrots. Stir fry a minute more then add 2 teaspoons of the dark soy sauce, 2 tablespoons of the light soy sauce and 2 tablespoons of the Shaoxing wine along with 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to medium. Cover and cook for around 15-20 minutes until the potatoes are done.

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    • By liuzhou
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    • By liuzhou
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      As we climbed the terraces we could hear singing and then came across this group of women. They are the tea pickers. It isn't tea picking time, but they came out in their traditional costumes to welcome us with their call and response music. They do often sing when picking. They were clearly enjoying themselves.
       

       
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      After our serenade we headed off again, this time to the east and the most memorable meal of the trip. Coming soon.
       
       
    • By liuzhou
      It sometimes seems likes every town in China has its own special take on noodles. Here in Liuzhou, Guangxi the local dish is Luosifen (螺蛳粉 luó sī fěn).
       
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      Yep, that is the soup pot! 15 meters in diameter and holding eleven tons of stock. Full of snails and pork bones, spices etc. Chefs delicately added ingredients to achieve the precise, subtle taste required.
       

       
      Noodles were distributed, soup added and dried ingredients incorporated then there was the sound of 10,000 people slurping.
       

      Surrounding the luosifen eating area were several stalls selling different goodies. Lamb kebabs (羊肉串) seemed most popular, but there was all sorts of food. Here are few of the delights on offer.
       

      Whole roast lamb or roast chicken
       

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      Kebab stall
       

      Crab
       

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      To be honest, it wasn’t the best luosifen I’ve ever eaten, but it was wasn’t the worst. Especially when you consider the number they were catering for. But it was a lot of fun. Which was the point.
       
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