Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Carolina-Style Steamed Shrimp with Spicy Cocktail Sauce

Perfect with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc overlooking the Pamlico Sound.
Sorry, but Summer ain't over yet, at least not in my book. While I am happy to be done with "most" of the searing hot temps in our part of the woods, I'm not giving up on dining al fresco, not until the first frost. At our house, having dinner on the back deck is where it's at. Whether we're grilling NY Strips with blue cheese wedge salads, slow-cooking barbecued ribs or searing veggie kabobs, you can bet that most of the time, some seriously good culinary action is happening right in our backyard.  

Sometimes we'll do it up steamed crabby style alongside plenty of cheap beer and drawn butter, while other times dinner is simply one, big sausage fest.
Yeah, I got crabs

Boerewors sausage from Grayhaven Winery's South African Food Fest
The important part is that we're outside, savoring the last of what summer has to offer, and what better way to give this season a big, fat send-off than the make a classic Carolina-Style Steamed Shrimp. If you've ever had the chance to visit the North Carolina coast, and if you're even luckier to have tasted your way down 95 South, you may already know that when it comes to steamed Carolina Shrimp, everyone's version is the best, and they're often surprisingly varied.

For example, on the coastal island of Hatteras, most locals prefer their steamed shrimp rather unadulterated, sauteing them shell-on in a dry pan without any seasoning whatsoever. Only after the cooking process do additions such as Old Bay, hot sauce or butter enter the mix. After sampling my fare share of this local delicacy, I can attest to the fact, that when it comes to these uniquely sweet crustaceans, less is most definitely more.

However, if you keep driving south and head to the Wrightsville Beach area of North Carolina, you may find yourself staring into a gargantuan, steamy pot of shell-on shrimp, Kielbasa sausage, potatoes and corn simmering elegantly in a broth accented with lemon, onion, garlic, Old Bay, cayenne pepper and Tabasco with the whole shebang eventually being dumped onto a table spread with newspapers. Life gets even better if the chef happens to throw in a steamed crab or two.

Your shrimp method and/or madness is totally up to you, but what's important, other than working with the freshest crustaceans you can find, is that you enjoy all this deliciousness outdoors in all it's ten napkin glory. 

Below is my take on a classic Carolina-style steamed shrimp in a basic beer and cider vinegar broth (we Southerners love our cider vinegar) but feel free to tweak this one out with a couple of sausages, corn and/or quartered potatoes (just be sure to add the shrimp last, after your taters are tender, so as not to overcook them). In order to prevent overcooking your shrimp in general, take the pot off the heat just as your shrimp begin to curl, and if you're working with a large amount, be sure to give the pot a good stir every now and then, so the shrimp on the bottom eventually make their way off the direct heat.

Finally, don't forget the cocktail sauce (as you can see, I like that spiced up, too) along with plenty of drawn butter and extra lemon wedges. Now, go get your last taste of Summer.

Photo Kendra Bailey Morris

Carolina-Style Peel and Eat Shrimp with Spicy Cocktail Sauce

Capture the last of summer with this easy, made-to-enjoy-outdoors steamed shrimp recipe. Serve your shrimp with grilled corn and a crisp-n-light beer such as Blue Mountain Brewery's Blue Mountain Lager.

Serves 4

1 cup water
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1 cup beer (not dark beer)
4 tablespoons Old Bay Seasoning, divided (2 tablespoons reserved)
2 bay leaves
1 small onion, quartered
2 celery rib, cut into 2 inch pieces
1 1emon, sliced in half
2 pounds large shrimp, shell-on

Bring all of your ingredients except shrimp to a boil in a shallow saucepan.  Cook for 8-10 minutes.  Next, add your shrimp, cover and cook until your shrimp are just pink (be careful not to overcook them). Remove shrimp to a bowl with a slotted spoon and toss with the reserved 2 tablespoons of Old Bay. Serve shrimp with lemon wedges, hot sauce, spicy cocktail sauce, additional Old Bay Seasoning and plenty of napkins.

Spicy Cocktail Sauce
Makes 1 cup

1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup chili sauce
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
1 teaspoon hot sauce, optional
Salt and pepper, to taste

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and chill.

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1 comment:

  1. Used to boil shrimp but ever since I've used the Barefoot Contessa's method of roasting shrimp in a hot oven (400 degrees for 6-8 minutes), haven't had any problems with overcooking (which can happen quite quickly with the boiling method).

    BTW, I always looked forward to your RTD column and am sorry to see it go. Hopefully you will be continuing with your blog?


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