Wednesday, October 25, 2006

How To Boil Shrimp

(38 F in Pure Florida predawn)

There must be a zillion ways to cook shrimp. Some of you sushi eaters don't even bother to cook it ( insert involuntary shudder here).

I'm a southern boy so I confess, I love them best, rolled in a light dusting of cracker meal and fried fast in hot peanut oil.

Sunday night after my Lower Suwannee Refuge adventure, I was in the mood for shrimp, but not in the mood for lots of prep, so Mrs. FC and I decided to just do a shrimp boil. I didn't even make a salad. We're talking lazy here...

Like most seafood cookery, the secret is to not overcook it. That goal makes seafood the original fast food. Boiling shrimp is so simple boiling water, only with shrimp in it. My method was as follows.

I put the water on to boil and looked for the box of Old Bay seafood boil seasoning that I meant to buy at the grocery store. When I couldn't find it I tossed a couple of bay leaves, a crushed garlic clove, and a couple shakes of Tony Cachere's Cajun Seasoning into the water. Then I waited for the water to boil ... I did NOT watch the pot.

Once the water was rolling, I tossed in the shrimp and set the timer for two minutes.

While they were boiling, I rummaged through the pantry until I found the last jar of datil pepper relish ... a 2003 batch according to Mom's handmade label. Botulism be damned, it may be 3 years old home canning, but we were not about to eat shrimp without some good datil pepper relish. (It was great by the way)

When the timer went off, out came the shrimp, pink and sweetly succulent.

It was a peel and eat fest. When it was over, all that was left were mounds of little empty exoskeletons and half a jar of datil pepper relish.

That was Sunday. Last night was a cast iron pot full of the famous Columbia Restaurant recipe Spanish Bean Soup (garbanzo beans). Years ago, the Columbia used to put their recipes on the back of books of matches which they gave out at the front desk. I don't smoke, but I used to grab a different recipe every time we went.

We timed the soup perfectly with the coldest (35 F) day of the year so far and it was wonderful.

What's your cold weather comfort food?

Posted by Picasa


pablo said...

Geez, I need to refresh my cache more often. I'd missed these last few posts.

threecollie said...

I called my kids over to see this post as they are shrimp lovers. They thought it looked pretty fine. I am a recent convert to shrimp, having never liked them until they brought home some different ones with some Chinese food last week. They were really good.

roger said...

mmmmmmmmmmmmm shrimp!!we usually, well always, peel the raw shrimp and cook them in risotto or some such. i do like finger food. we'll try this boiling thing. it will be next year before we have datil pepper relish though, as i started the plants way too late this year.

and i'm still busy imagining ecological connections after you set me going with the previous post.

robin andrea said...

Datil relish. Yum. Now there's a recipe that must be shared. Hot soup on a cold day. Nothing better.

vicki said...

Soup. Pea soup with ham, cream of tomato-basil soup, potato soup. All designed to comfort and pad for the cold days ahead.

Your shrimp, as usual, look delicious. Reminds me that soon I'll be able to wander down to the 4th Ave Shrimp Store in St. Petersburg every day for lunch. Yuumm.

debbie said...

I found the Southern Living gumbo recipe and made it with the baked roux as you suggested. That is the BEST gumbo that I have ever had. Some friends stopped by and told me that they could smell the aroma drifting out through our open windows and they just had to sample some. I also added some shrimp and leftover crab to the gumbo. Very Good!

Betsy said...

FC, your recipe for boiled shrimp is EXACTLY how my dad does it! and he is a native North Florida boy, too.

He, too, used to stop at the Columbia Restaurant for their black bean soup ("cuban caviar").

Must be the sand in your shoes ...

Likes2mtnbike said...

Jambalaya with shrimp, crawfish, chicken and Andouille sausage.
Serve with fresh buttered cuban bread...mmmm, good eats!

Likes2mtnbike said...

Oh yeah, and until recently (for me), a big mug of cuban coffee afterwards.

It's kinda weird to see your readers who have never eaten shrimp. I wonder what the "staple meal" is in their necks of the woods. We have fresh seafood in FLA all the time...what is native and plentiful in your different readers' areas, I wonder?

Mrs. S said...


Can you tell I've been thinking about that a lot lately?

Likes2mtnbike said...

(mrs. s., hunting the wild soupandcrackers)

Got me thinking about making some chicken soup... great idea! Thanks for dinner, mrs. s.!

Leslie said...

Taunt us with photos of your decadent delicious fare.

Favorite cold weather food - chili and cornbread, most likely.
Pot roast is also good because it cooks for so long and makes the house smell heavenly and warm.

I was at a local feed store recently (WV) and the conversation turned to seafood and one of the women said "I had crab cakes, once" - and that was her entire lifelong seafood experience. My mind boggled.

Lightnin said...

Thunder is whipping up his famous pumpkin soup this weekend. Always a favorite here at this time of year! We buy extra pumpkins so we can still make it later or even can it! Yummy!

Laura said...

If you don't stop writing about shrimp dishes, I may have to stop coming over here. I get so hungry from it all!
It sounds delicious, however. You make it very similar to the way I do, and I Think shrimp is the ultimate lazy cooks meal. Just drop it in a pot and feast 2 minutes later!

I think I have some extra Columbia Restaurant recipes around here, but I haven't made them yet. Time to remedy that! I'll see what I have, and send them to you and the Mrs. if you'd like!

By the way, there's a test up at my site, but you're not allowed to take it. guess why. (doh) :)

Deb said...

Another soup junkie here; creamy wild rice soup with chicken, turkey, or salmon, is a local favorite, especially when accompanied with a fresh hot loaf from the bread machine.

However, if I wasn't in such a landlocked state I could practically live off shrimp.

Wayne said...

Send me shrimp and I won't tell you what terrestrial critters they're related to.

Hal at Ranch Ramblins said...

A hearty stew with any good crusty bread to mop up the sauce always fills the bill over here.

That datip pepper relish sure looks good.

Floridacracker said...

Ya know there's something new here each day, just like RRJ :)

It's never too late to start. Glad you're a convert.

i wondered how your datils grew. even here, Dad starts them in Dec.

I think I can share that recipe. It would work with any flavorful (not just hot) pepper.

What a great name for a restaurant. Your soups sound good. Winter padding is important up there I suppose.

See, now that is what a real cook does. She takes a recipe and makes it her own. Glad you found it, made it, smelt it, ate it!

"Cuban caviar" ... I could live on it as long as I had some rice. Definitely sand in my shoes.

Sounds great. Sooo, are you reducing your caffiene intake? Stalking the wild soupandcrackers ... heehee.

Mrs. S,
Well, you're eating for two and it's cold up there, so soup makes perfect sense.

I can't imagine seafood once.
I love chili too although I like to dip tortillas in it. I used to have the Texas champion chili recipe around here. I love opening the door and smelling soup!

Okay, I'm trying to imagine pumpkin soup ... really I am. Pie no problem, soup ?

We have the 1906 salad, Cuban black bean, and Spanish bean soup recipes as far as I know. I love their bread as much as anything.
I checked out your test and made my comment. GREAT PHOTO!

You gotta have good bread of some kind when you have soup. Still loving your bread machine?

I know, I know. My stomach heaves when I see some travel host or Asian native eating grubs and insects, and yet I can really dig into a crab, lobster, or shrimp. Totally illogical.

Floridacracker said...

Crusty Cuban or a good French baguette would be my choice for that stew. Datil relish is wonderful. I sneak it into restaurants.

rick said...

have you heard of boiling them without water? just put them in a covered pot and cook on wed-high and pick up pot occasionally and swirl the shrimp around. the juices from the shrimp do a good tasty job

Abandoned in Pasadena said...

I love shrimp, but never learned to cook them. So thank you very much for the simple recipe... I love peel and eat shrimp.

Floridacracker said...

Mom was just telling me about that method. Gotta try it.

It really is as simple as boiling water. I'm not convinced the spices are even necessary since they cook so fast, but couldn't hurt!

The MacBean Gene said...

The one thing I really miss about Florida is the seafood. When I moved to Baltimore I took one look at the local seafood and thought, these things are really ugly. I would give anything for some fresh shrimp, snapper (not the mangrove variety), sheepshead or snook. And the Blue Crabs I got in Baltimore could not even compare to those from Tampa Bay. And speaking of the Columbia how's about sharing some of those recipes I've managed to lose over the years?

The MacBean Gene said...

By the way Laura, would that be the 4th ST. Shrimp Store still around 10th Ave N.?