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Caribbean Cooking: Lets Go Shrimping

Baiting season in South Carolina and especially around the Charleston area is late September and October. During this time the local creeks and tidal flats are crowded with shrimp and it is legal to put out bait to catch them. An entire industry has sprung up around this activity. Most “shrimpers” use fishmeal mixed with clay as bait, then they cast their nets to catch the delicious crustaceans. 

I am told that on a good night you can fill up a 50 gallon cooler with shrimp. Some friends that I talked with said they were not quite that industrious and just throw a handful of rabbit food out in the slip next to them, cast a net a few times and get 4 or 5 dozen nice shrimp. This is also a good time of the year to trap a lot of blue crabs.  Bait the trap with chicken parts. 

A quick trip to the local market for corn on the cob, red potatoes, and sausage gives you the makings for a great meal. Sit around the table picking crabs, peeling shrimp, and discussing the adventures of the past summer.

Preparation for use: To clean shrimp, the heads are pinched off just behind the thorax and discarded. The shrimp should then be washed and placed in ice. Shrimp will shell and devein easier if they are chilled first.

To peel and devein — place your thumb on the stomach and you will feel a separation, work your thumb in the separation and peel off the skin. Use a paring knife to run down the back and remove the black sand vein. If you are using a deveining tool, place the pointed end of the tool in the cavity where the head was removed and run all the way down the back of the shrimp to the joint just before the tail and pull up. This will remove the shell and the vein at the same time.

Shrimp should be cooked within one to two days of catch or purchase. If you are not going to cook them until later, it would be best to freeze them immediately.

To freeze shrimp — wash the shrimp well, rinse several times and seal in bags. If you are planning to store them for a long time, remove the heads.  Frozen shrimp maintain their flavor for up to six months. It is better if you freeze only raw shrimp. When you are ready to cook them, simply add them to whatever dish you are making, you do not need to defrost before cooking.

TIPS:

  • To butterfly — after deveining, make a deep cut along the back, cutting almost but not completely through the body; flatten to form a butterfly.
  • When purchasing fresh shrimp, look for good firm flesh, no odor or discoloration.
  • Frozen shrimp should not be thawed to room temperature.
  • Remember, do NOT overcook shrimp. This makes them tough. They are cooked as soon as they turn pink.
  • Cooking shrimp in their shells adds considerable flavor.
  • Serve about 1/2 pound of fresh shrimp in the shell for each person.
  • Cooked shrimp can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three days.

BEAUFORT STEW

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: about 40 minutes
Serves: As many as you like

Find your largest pot and half full it with water. To each gallon add:
1/4 cup Texas Pete
1 Tblsp. Old Bay Seasoning
1 Tblsp. garlic powder
1 lemon cut in half and squeezed

Bring water to a boil and add:
3 little red potatoes per person

Simmer covered for about 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Then add for each person:

1/2 or 1 ear of corn or frozen corn
3 -4 pieces of sausage (Kielbasa or Andouille)

Cover and simmer another 5 minutes. Then add the following, per person
1/4 lb unpeeled shrimp
2 clusters of crab or 1-2 steamed blue crabs

Simmer another couple of minutes until shrimp turn pink. Immediately drain the water. Spread out newspapers and place a large serving platter on top. Place potatoes, corn, sausage, shrimp, and crab on platter. Sprinkle liberally with Old Bay seasoning and garnish with lemon wedges. Serve with drawn butter, cocktail sauce, and hot French bread.

Note: You can add other fish like clams, lobster, etc.

This is a famous recipe of the low country. Beaufort pronounced “bewfort” (like new) is named after a town in South Carolina. In North Carolina there is another town called Beaufort, but it is pronounced “bowfort”.

This is a fun, party, recipe and a wonderful way to use fresh local shellfish.

BARBEQUED  SHRIMP AND ORANGE RICE

Preparation time: 30 minutes    
Marinating time: 8 hours                                           
Cooking Time: 5 minutes on BBQ Grill
Serves: 6

1 cup orange juice    
1 cup peanut oil         
30 jumbo shrimp         
6 strips raw bacon    
Barbeque sauce

Orange Rice:
1-1/2 cups white rice
3 cups orange juice
Garnish: grilled pineapple slices

Shell and devein shrimp, then wrap each one in a small piece of bacon and  secure by a toothpick. When all shrimp are prepared, place in a bowl and cover with orange juice and peanut oil. Let marinate for 8 hours.

Prepare and cook Orange Rice. Preheat grill.  Drain marinade and place shrimp on hot grill. Cover with barbeque sauce. Grill shrimp for 3 to 5 minutes. Do NOT overcook.  Serve over Orange Rice. Garnish with grilled pineapple slices.

LOW COUNTRY  SHRIMP

Preparation time: 5 minutes          
Cooking time: 10 minutes     
Serves: 6

3 lb. raw shrimp in shells, (20-24 count)    
1/4 cup butter    
1/4 cup vegetable oil    
2 Tblsp. lemon juice                  
1/4 tsp. salt        
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 Tblsp. barbeque sauce
1 bay leaf, crumbled
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 tsp. each dried rosemary, paprika, crushed basil leaves, and red pepper flakes

Butterfly shrimp by cutting lengthwise down back thru shell, but not cutting all the way through. Don’t remove shells. In large skillet melt butter. Add shrimp and sauté 3 to 4 minutes or until shrimp just begins to turn pink. Add all the remaining ingredients. Cook over low heat 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Cover and let stand 5 minutes. Spoon shrimp and sauce into large serving dish.

Note: This is quick, easy, and very tasty. Serve with lots of napkins and a dish for discarded shells.

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