Coast Cooking

Desporte & Sons Seafood Market & Deli is a Biloxi favorite

Shrimp and sausage po-boy served at Desporte & Sons Market & Deli. Check out the recipe with the story.
Shrimp and sausage po-boy served at Desporte & Sons Market & Deli. Check out the recipe with the story. SPECIAL TO THE SUN HERALD

Desporte & Sons Seafood Market & Deli has been around for five generations selling locally caught seafood.

The business used to be on Caillavet Street, but after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, it relocated to Porter Avenue and Division Street in Biloxi.

This family-run business is famous for fresh and local seafood and a great deli where a locally inspired lunch can be had for a reasonable price.

Business background

The family business started out as a seafood retail market, and over the years moved into the wholesale business, especially after the advent of the casino industry.

But even years before that, the big hotels that were the prize of the Gulf Coast counted on Desporte & Sons for fresh seafood and even for providing teams of oyster shuckers for big events.

Adversity has always been a part of the business’ 120-year history and shops have been lost to fire and storms.

Late owner Junie Desporte was fond of saying, “We keep coming back, just like bad grass.”

Business today

Sean Desporte runs the present-day operation, along with the help of several family members, but it is a much more complicated business today.

Sean keeps on top of things by being involved in the industry, including serving on a recovery committee after the BP oil spill in 2010.

He also is involved in efforts to revive the Coast’s oyster industry.

“I’d love to see the day we could lease oyster reefs from the state and market Desporte brand oysters,” he said. “One day soon, Mississippi could be the leader in the oyster industry in the USA. I am very optimistic.”

It isn’t all business and profit for Desporte & Sons, however. Sean and his employees can often be found cooking at community happenings such as events involving the Shuckers baseball team, the Mississippi Sheriffs Association and the graduation at the Mississippi Police Academy.

“You have got to give back to the community that supports you,” Sean said.

How to buy seafood

Sean doesn’t mind sharing some of the knowledge he has gained from purchasing fresh seafood professionally.

▪ Be sure what you are looking for is in season, he advises. Buying out-of-season seafood means you are mostly buying frozen seafood that may be fairly old.

▪ Oysters that are in the shell (and presumably still alive) and on ice will always be a good bet. If they are packaged in a plastic container and kept cold, he said, then they will be sweet and delicious as long as they are within the sell-by date.

▪ Buying fish isn’t a difficult task, either, he said. Just make sure they have clear eyes, and smell like the salty ocean. Any seafood product that smells “fishy” should be avoided.

▪ Shrimp should be clear-eyed and firm of body, he said. Mushy shrimp should always be suspected of being old.

▪ Finally, he recommends dealing with a fish seller you know and trust. If you ever question the freshness of anything, he said, just ask. The merchant you are dealing with should be straightforward in telling you how long the fish has been on ice.

Desporte & Sons Seafood Market & Deli

Where: 1075 Division St., Biloxi

When: Monday 7 a.m. to noon; Tuesday-Friday 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.; closed on Sunday

Contact: 228-432-1018

Shrimp and sausage po-boy

A recipe from Tim Williams, the deli chef at Desporte & Sons

1 po-boy loaf per person

¼ cup sliced smoked pork sausage

6-8 large shrimp

Sliced tomato and lettuce

Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning

Butter as needed

Sauté the sausage in butter or oil until well-browned. Remove and set aside. Season the shrimp with Tony’s and sauté in the same pan you cooked the sausage in, over high heat for 2 minutes. Do not overcook. Toast the bread, add butter if your doctor and diet allows. Add the sausage to the sliced open bread. Add the shrimp and then tomato and lettuce. If you want to use mayonnaise, go for it, but you also might want to consider a good sprinkle of olive oil. If you want to take this po-boy to new levels, add cheese and melt. The real key to this po-boy is well-browned sausage and shrimp that is not overcooked.