OWENSBORO, Ky. -- Fresh, never-frozen sea bass.
Fresh catfish wild-caught from Kentucky Lake.
Live, enormous Gulf oysters on ice, shucked while you watch.
The demand for quality fresh seafood continues to grow in our area and is being met by the brand-new Bubba Gandy Seafood and Cajun Market in Owensboro, Kentucky.
Carene Sater owns and manages the business with assistant manager Logan Gilmore. Through family, she has strong ties and a direct supply line to the Gulf fishing industry in Panama City, Florida, and she's using it to bring superior fish, shellfish and Cajun products right to our back door.
Sater's education is in business administration. She wanted to start a lasting and sustainable business that brought a unique product to Owensboro.
"My Gandy family relatives have had a seafood business since the 1940's," she said. "Every time I was down there in Louisiana or Florida I'd be bringing coolers of fish back for people. They deliver fresh to store locations in Tennessee, so I asked them about what it would take to start one here."
She put everything she had into building the business, doing a lot of the work herself by hand.
"I laid the floor, I painted the walls, and Logan and I found most of the seashells on Panama Beach," she said. "It's our baby; it's what I worked for."
The ice-heaped cases are full of fillets of all types, never frozen and always freshly-cut. Most fish come directly from the gulf. Coldwater types such as salmon and flounder are sourced from more northerly suppliers.
You'll find fresh, mild grouper and halibut, meaty mahi-mahi and deep red ahi tuna.
"Ahi should be a bright, dark red," said Sater. "A paler pink color means it's been frozen and thawed or that the slices have been washed. When it's a deep, red-purple color like an Angus steak, you know it's just off the fish."
At Bubba Gandy, you can even find the very unusual and prized fresh sea bass, which is almost always sold frozen or previously frozen.
"Seabass has a really nice, buttery flavor," said Sater. "When you cut it, it smells like butter. It's a very healthy fish with a lot of Omega 3 fatty acids."
The way Sater ensures her fish stays top quality is to bring it in whole and cut small amounts only as she needs it.
"I don't cut up a bunch and let it sit there," she said. "When the small amount I have out is sold, I'll wash and sanitize the pan and cut a little more. Everything is replenished daily. If a customer requests a fish, we'll try to get it. We'll take your information and put you on a list, so whenever we have your fish in we'll let you know."
This means you may certainly purchase whole fish if you like, so if you've always wanted to make one of those dramatic Mediterranean or Asian whole fish preparations, now you can.
In the shellfish case, which holds a number of shrimp with shells on and off, scallops and live mussels, the star of the show are the live Gulf oysters, which you may take with you on ice, in the shell or shucked and served with cocktail sauce, horseradish and lemon.
If you are hungering for a full meal, you may have a boil, the only dish actually cooked and served at Bubba Gandy's. The corn, sausage, potatoes, spice, cocktail sauce or garlic butter and preparation costs $5.99. You pick your seafood right out of the case and add the cost of that, then the whole mess is cooked fresh for you.
A shelf and frozen case are full of Deep South and Cajun food items too. Everything from crawfish pies and gumbo to andouille sausage, boudin and chicory coffee from Café du Monde are available to compliment your fresh seafood. You may also order turduckens and turducken breasts for Thanksgiving.
Bubba Gandy Seafood is located at 3600 Frederica Street in Owensboro, Kentucky
Tuesday - Thursday 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
Friday - Saturday 10 a.m.-8 p.m.
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