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Meet the Farmer Series 4 - Lee's Sweet Shrimp

Updated: Jun 5, 2019

(Mandarin version at bottom)

Shitiwan’s (石梯灣) Sustainable Aquaculture Farm

Beside the Provincial Highway 11 which links Hualien and Taitung, is a place of majestic natural beauty where water and rock converge. Here, a platform beside the seawater beckons one to take a repose, while the Pacific’s unrelenting tides crash upon the shore, accompanied by faint odors of salty seaweed. Here, the fragrance of flowers and musty smells of ancient trees combine serendipitously with the ocean’s elements, allowing one to truly bask in nature’s gentle roughness. Given such a description, it may be hard to accept that a place like this, so full of comfort and longing, is not a coastal park, nor a country park, but rather, the perfect location to raise sweet shrimp (女兒蝦).



The People Behind It All

Unlike the small and shallow aquaculture ponds that are common in southern Taiwan, the aquaculture ponds here are large, about half as wide as a football field. The one behind all of this is Professor Lee, “ah gong”, who is a robust man of 80 –the type who laughs boisterously without refrain. According to a traditional Taiwanese idiom, “The type of ‘pet’ you raise reflects the type of person you are.” For Professor Lee, the succulent sweetness of his shrimp illustrates his decades of experience in the aquaculture industry. Some reviewers have even gone so far as to say that, “If Professor Lee declared himself as the fifth best aqua-culturist in Taiwan, no one would dare to place themselves in the top four.” Again, this is a proof of the quality of Lee’s sweet shrimp.

On the aquaculture farm, aside from Professor Lee, another person also works here: Professor Lee’s daughter, Lee Yi-chuan “Teacher Lee” – who owns a PhD in aquaculture. Despite her impressive academic credentials, Professor Lee likes to joke cheekily, “If only she’d have 20% of all my knowledge, I would be very pleased already!” Despite this harmless teasing, deep down, one can tell that Professor Lee is very proud of his daughter. After graduating with a degree in animal industry from one of Taiwan’s top universities, she changed her career concentration and decided to pursue further studies in aquaculture. Her motivation? To be the successor of her father’s craft that would otherwise vanish forever. We have her to thank for allowing us to continue enjoying such great shrimp.


Maintaining a Delicate Balance between Conservation and Aquaculture

As one of the most water-intensive industries in Taiwan, aquaculture is a controversial issue. Therefore, both Professor Lee and Teacher Lee are always evaluating how to better balance their high standards for shrimp breeding and their concerns for the environment. They insist on not adding any drugs or extra additives commonly used in coastal aquaculture, such as fertilizers, disinfectants, antibacterial agents, pesticides, herbicides/algaecides, feed additives, anesthetics or hormones. As a result, they are able to keep the seawater uncontaminated and free of any offensive odors, lessening the impact on the ocean’s circulation system. Their foresight has set a good example for coming generations, and through doing so, they hope to influence other aquaculturists in adopting more sustainable aquaculture methods.



Their Guiding Maxim

Many people ask the Lees about what distinguishes their shrimp from that of others, and in particular, what exactly makes their shrimp so fresh and sweet. This can all be attributed to the Lees’ profound dedication to their profession and their strict adherence to a guiding maxim: the Golden Rule – to treat the shrimp in the way they would want to be treated. Consequently, throughout the entire planning process, the Lees always think from a shrimp’s perspective when considering what fodder to purchase, where to best breed the shrimp, and so on. By assuming the perspective of a shrimp and not that of a fishery manager bent on maximizing profits, the Lees are able to better guarantee the quality of their shrimp.


A Testimony of Lee’s Sweet Shrimp

In her early days at the aquaculture farm, Teacher Lee was confounded by a startling phenomenon: customers would gobble the entire shrimp down, including the shell! This only goes on to illustrate the freshness and tastiness of the Lees’ shrimp. When making decisions throughout the breeding process, the Lees always keep the customers’ health in mind – whether it’s choosing the source of baby shrimp, raising the shrimp, or the final product packaging. However, due to such a careful consideration, their expenditure is very high, and the Lees often earn less than what they should. In a market dominated by large wholesalers that sell at unreasonably low prices, many small aquaculture farms suffer significantly. Furthermore, since such farms often lack a holistic understanding of market prices, they often under-price their products. Not only is this a vicious cycle for small-scale aquaculturists, but for consumers as well, who are at a loss when searching for quality ingredients due to the opaqueness of market information.


【女兒蝦】-原來白蝦可以這麼甜


父女攜手,築夢石梯灣的友善養殖法

坐落在東部海岸的11號公路邊,這裡有著擁山面海的天然環境,寬闊的池邊高台乾淨到可以隨意地席地而坐;聽著耳邊傳來的太平洋浪濤聲;拂面而來的陣陣海風夾帶著一股淡淡的海藻鹹味,與山林裡飄來的清新花樹氣息巧妙地融合為一體,創造出另一種既原始又不厚重,粗獷中又感受得到細膩的獨特氛圍。你一定很難想像,這麼舒服又有點浪漫的地方,遠遠看去像座低矮的海邊城堡,不是什麼海濱渡假區,也不是森林風景區,而是孕育女兒蝦的友善養殖地點。


博學阿公 – 人稱‘’李教授’’的紮實養殖功夫

與自小記憶中淺淺小小如棋盤格的南部不同,這裡養殖池寬闊到有半著足球場大,而捍衛這座巨大養殖城堡的主人,是一位身體硬朗、笑聲豪邁、一點也看不出已届80旬,人稱'李教授'的開朗阿公。俗話說:什麼人養什麼寵物。而累積了幾十年水產養殖經驗的阿公,其養殖的女兒蝦之甜美亦無人能出其右!'全台灣如果阿公自稱是養殖界第5名,絕對沒人敢把自己排在前4名!'如此來自他人真實的評價,實實在在地道出了阿公無人可並駕齊驅的養殖技藝。


生力軍 - 水產博士女兒的加持

在這獨特的白蝦養殖城堡裡,除了有阿公的實戰性的智慧守護著,更有他擁有水產養殖博士學歷的女兒,一起加入了扶植台灣友善養殖的行列!

'我那女兒李意娟,若有學到我百分之2的技術就算很不錯了啦!'阿公雖然這樣笑虧著自家女兒,臉上卻有著為人父親 - 引女兒之孝心為傲的滿足神情。李老師(即阿公的女兒,大家都稱其為李老師)從台大畜產所畢業後,毅然決然地選擇水產養殖所繼續深造,為的就是想讓阿公養殖技藝能後繼有人,否則阿公豐富珍貴的知識與技藝若沒人傳承,我們的後代子孫又怎麼能有機會享受到如此鮮甜美味的白蝦呢?


養殖與生態保護的平衡點

水產養殖業的用水資源消耗量大,偏偏水資源又是台灣環境保護最重要的議題之一。因此如何兼顧養蝦品質與生態環境的維護,是李阿公與李老師父女兩人最重要的課題。他們秉持著對生態環境負責,堅持”不用藥、不非法添加”的養殖方式,對於每一滴排放出去的用水,也都做到完善的處理,站在太平洋沿岸邊,從養殖場循環處理過後咕嚕嚕排出來的海水,一點異味也沒有。這些無污染的海水回到太平洋的循環系統裡,不僅不會對海洋系統造成負擔,長久下來還會再回到養殖場再做利用。善待台灣珍貴的水資源,不僅是對環境負責,也是為後代子孫使用的水資源負責,李氏父女兩人就是用著如此遠見的理念,兩個人一池蝦,克服了重重難關終於收成了第一池的女兒蝦,繼續朝第二期的養殖邁進。並希望在未來,女兒蝦品牌的建立與成功,能夠影響更多水產養殖業者,一起加入他們友善養殖的行列!


從蝦出發 為蝦著想

很多人都會問,女兒蝦到底跟其他蝦有什麼差別?為什麼會特別的鮮甜好吃?這都要歸功於李氏父女的專業的技術與用心。李氏養蝦的原則是:如果我是蝦,那我要吃什麼最營養?我要住哪裡最舒服?我要活在怎麼樣的環境能健康長大? 就是在友善的理念下,從蝦苗、蝦池、蝦水、蝦飼料的設計與安排,都是站在蝦的立場,而非以養殖漁戶控管成本為由的立場出發,讓白蝦能夠在最適合的天然環境中活動,蝦子自然健康的成長,自然就特別的鮮甜美味!


吃蝦不吐蝦殼-就是這麼新鮮!

這是李老師常津津樂道的一個故事:第一次到蝦場認識阿公的時候,每個人仿佛這輩子沒吃過這麼好吃的蝦似的,連蝦殼也吃得一乾二淨!離開後李老師馬上接到阿公打來的電話說:唔看過有人連蝦殼都吃進去的!(台語)父女兩人的女兒蝦,舉凡蝦苗來源、養殖生產到包裝,無一不是100%的用心在為食用者而著想。正所謂一分錢一分貨,他們的認真,養殖的成本比一般的高上許多倍,販售的收入卻不成正比,都被行口大盤商以不合理的價格給批發去零售。這是非常可惜的狀況。令人難過的是,其實這也是發生在多數小農戶身上的問題。因為他們對於產品的市場價格缺乏概念,高品質的商品往往被低估其價值。這不僅是對生產者的踐踏,對購買者來說,更是種不正義的消費文化:有心尋找好食材的人被不透明的市場資訊混淆,不知道要去哪裡買到真正令人安心的優質食材。


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