We be shrimpin’.
Ever since we arrived in Taiwan (it’s been over a year now – wow) I’ve heard James talk about going shrimping. My friend Karen put it best by saying “I didn’t even know it could be a verb.” James was always looking for someone to go with him, preferably a Taiwanese person, so they could show him the ropes. Or should I say show him the lines? As in fishing lines? Okay, that was terrible.
This weekend, that opportunity presented itself. Our church, The Pearl, has a gathering on Thursday nights called Chinese Corner where you can go and learn/practice Chinese on any level. The guy who heads it up, Isaac, is always looking for things to do locally as a group to learn more about Taiwanese culture and force you to use a bit of the language. James suggested shrimping and within minutes Isaac had a plan made. He’s awesome like that.
To be honest, I debated whether or not to go. I told James it was the equivalent of him coming with me to get mani/pedies. But in the end, I can’t tell you how glad I was that I went. It was 非常好玩 (SO fun) and something you definitely couldn’t experience in the States.
So, here’s how it all went down.
With Isaac as our leader, a group of six of headed out to the shrimping headquarters. It’s basically a big, open-air building
with “shrimp swimming pools” inside.
I chose to say swimming pool for lack of a better description. However, I realize “swimming pools” is not how the poor little shrimp would describe the recreation of munching on raw liver (I think it was liver) to their death. Sorry, shrimpies.
Once you’re in, you grab a fishing pole,
a little tray,
some miscellaneous organs,
and some tiny shrimp.
Wait a minute. Big shrimp eat tiny shrimp? I’m learning something new every day. Taiwan is blowing my mind.
You better net forget one of these for your loot.
Once your bait is chopped up
you’re ready to load your hook,
throw it in,
and then you just wait.
The rest of our pool gang waited patiently, too.
I’m still questioning why we didn’t fish with ice cream. I’ve heard it’s good luck.
This guy and his son were serious shrimpers.
I mean, he’s out here with a Louis Vuitton tackle box. That’s serious. No smiling allowed.
Within minutes, we were all making our first catch.
Captain Isaac patiently came around and showed us all how to handle our shrimp without getting pinched,
and how to grab the bait hook out of their mouths.
He even withstood a sacrifice pinch in the process.
Then in the net they go.
Before I get called out on this, I didn’t really do much handling and de-baiting. I left it to the boys who seemed to be enjoying it immensely. I’m fine with that. I’d prefer not to have shrimpy-smelling hands. Much less raw organs.
Our 2 hour limit came up quickly. I think we all could have shrimped much longer. But the show wasn’t over yet. The best part is, what you catch, you get to eat. I think James and I kinda had it in our heads that once you were done catching the shrimp, you handed your net over to the professionals to prepare and cook them.
This is all a self-service deal. All at the expense of some unsuspecting shrimp (and $NT300).
So, let me just warn you that if you feel sorry for the shrimp now, (I did) I suggest you don’t read further. There’s no happy ending twist to this plot where there are pictures of these little dudes swimming happily back into the river to be reunited with their shrimp family. Sorry about that.
You dump your shrimp into the sink
and then pull off their pinchers. Yep, I told you.
Then they get loaded on to a tray,
poured in a bucket, and doused with salt. (I cringed too.)
You shake them around in the bucket (I know, it keeps getting worse) so that they become discombobulated (I like that word).
Honestly, I think most of them were dead by this point. Or that’s what I told myself. Before being cooked,
they have to be skewered. (I’m feeling really terrible about myself right now.)
I did acquire and injury during this process.
Let’s face it, I deserved it.
Now into the roaster they go.
If you can get past the process, there’s nothing better than fresh shrimp.
Looks like everyone agreed.
We can’t thank Isaac enough for making our first shrimping experience the best.
Check out more pics here, and watch the hot movie below.