Fresh seafood—it’s one of the best parts of a beach vacation! Whether you’re ordering seafood at a popular restaurant or purchasing your own to cook up a tasty meal at the beach house, seafood is a coastal getaway essential. Before buying your own seafood, though, you might have some questions about what you can get here in Destin and along the Emerald Coast. That’s why we talked with Jason Wilson, a seafood expert, to answer the most frequently asked questions regarding fresh seafood on the Gulf! With years of fishing experience and the experience of operating a seafood market since 1997, Jason Wisen of Shrimpers Seafood Market in Santa Rosa Beach knows everything there is to know about Gulf seafood.
What types of seafood are available?
Shrimpers Seafood Market is a full-service seafood market that offers all types of Gulf seafood. Everything is sourced locally, so customers can enjoy the fresh taste of the Emerald Coast at any time. Available seafood includes Gulf fish, shrimp, shellfish, and scallops. You’ll find everything from fresh-caught Tuna, Snapper, Triggerfish, and Amberjack to lobsters, oysters, clams, and mussels. If you can find it in the Gulf, you can probably find it at the market!
What to look for when buying fresh seafood?
When buying fresh seafood, there are a few important things to look out for to make sure you get the best of the best. With fish, you’ll want the eyes to be clear. The gills should be a good red color, rather than a dirty brown. Good fresh fish will have a nice sheen or glow, as well. When looking for shrimp, make sure that everything is intact, with no heads broken off. The smell is another good indicator of fresh seafood. Be sure it has a fresh, cucumber smell or sea smell, and chances are you’ve found something good!
Where do you get your seafood?
At Shrimpers Seafood Market, all the seafood is sourced locally. Much of it comes from Destin, from Harbor Docks, and from the guys out on the boats. From Panama City to Pensacola, Shrimpers can get any of the Gulf seafood that they need.
Which fish to eat in each season?
In the spring, you’ll often find cobias and pompanos. Summer is a good time for topwater fish, such as Wahoo, Mahi, and Tuna. While fish are abundant in the summertime, winter is a little more scarce, with some fish harder to come by. It’s best to ask the experts at the market what fish they have available at the time.
Related article: Why is the Sand So White in Destin?
What is Destin known for? (Besides White Sand)
With roots as a small fishing village, it’s no surprise that Destin is known for its fish! People would come from all over to catch Snappers, Groupers, and Cobia. Though there is a lot of shrimp in the bay and in the Gulf, Destin is ultimately famous for its fish and as a great fishing location.
What’s your favorite fish?
Wisen's favorite fish is Triggerfish. He likes it panfried with a little bit of panko on the outside. Sauce or no sauce? He can go either way!
What do you need to know about buying fresh seafood?
When buying seafood, a good rule of thumb is about a ½ pound per person. Regarding the type of fish or seafood you’re purchasing, Wisen says don’t be afraid to ask whoever is attending to you. If you have questions about taking care of it, preparing it, or even cooking it, just ask! They want you to feel comfortable and confident about preparing your own coastal meal, and have a good experience with the seafood. Knowing how to properly serve up a tasty seafood meal will make your stay in Destin and along 30A even more enjoyable.
Other questions about fresh Gulf seafood? Be sure to visit Shrimpers Seafood Market, located north of Highway 98 in Santa Rosa Beach. At the market, they are more than happy to help you with everything seafood-related so that you can experience the freshest seafood that the Gulf of Mexico has to offer. After getting your fresh seafood, bring it back to your Destin vacation rental to cook up a yummy seafood feast!
Rather eat out? Check out our Staff Picks for the Best Seafood Restaurants in Destin.