Saturday, September 22, 2018

Spiced Shrimp

Sometimes, simple is best. This can be especially true when one is talking about shrimp. The crustaceans cook so quickly and can be overcooked so quickly.  For this reason,  a simple boil in beer, water and some spices can produce a quick and tasty appetizer.

I learned this many years ago when I worked for a seafood restaurant. At that restaurant, there was always a pot on the stove with water, beer and the restaurant's version of Old Bay.  Drop a dozen shrimp in and in a couple of minutes (at most), you pulled them out and put them in a basket.  It was that simple. The hardest part was making sure that the pot was filled with the right mix of beer, water and spice for the whole night. A lot of shrimp would get that 2 minute bath every night, throughout the night.  Spiced shrimp -- or, as the restaurant would call them "barbecued shrimp" -- were very popular. (And, before anyone says anything, I know that authentic "barbecued shrimp" is not prepared in this fashion, it was just a thing for this particular restaurant. What did they know ... they were a crab house ....)

There are a couple of things about this recipe that you should keep in mind.  First, use a lager beer.  If I recall correctly, the restaurant used Yuengling for its spiced shrimp.  I don't like Yuengling.  Period.  The best beer in my humble opinion for this recipe is a pilsner. I love Pilsner Urquell, but other pilsners, like Victory's Prima Pils also work well. Second, you need a great spice mix. Old Bay works well. But, if you happen to be somewhere with a market that has good selection of shrimp, fish and crabs, you should see if they also have their own spice mix. Often times, it is Old Bay, but, every once in a while, you come across a small seafood market who actually makes their own spice mix, and it is very good. For this recipe, I found such a seafood market in the Outer Banks, who make their own spice mix.  Third, save some of the spice mix to sprinkle on at the end, like a garnish.

You can serve it with cocktail sauce, hot sauce or something else.  Or, you can do what I do and just eat them. 

A Chef Bolek Original
Serves 4

2 pounds of fresh shrimp (21-26 count)
4 cups of lager beer
6 cups of water
Approximately 3/4 cup of Old Bay or similar spice mix

1.  Prepare the boiling liquid.  Combine the beer, water and spice mix in a pot, but reserve some spice mix and set aside.  Bring to a boil over high heat.

2.  Boil the shrimp.  Add the shrimp and cook until the shrimp is opaque, about 2 minutes.

3. Finish the dish. Remove the shrimp from the boiling liquid and divide into servings.  Sprinkle some of the reserved spice mix over the shrimp.


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