Here in Seattle we’re known for our fresh, delicious seafood - salmon, oysters, spot prawns, Dungeness crab, geoduck, razor clams - but going to another coastal region with a rich culinary tradition in seafood like ours is always a treat. What a delight it is to experience different tastes and preparations on some of our favorite seafoods, and what better place to do that than on the Gulf Coast!
On a recent trip to New Orleans we slurped down sweet fat oysters on the half shell (often with a drizzle of the ubiquitous Crystal hot sauce), nibbled on crawfish, ate varieties of fish not found in our Pacific Northwest waters, and peeled spicy boiled shrimp after shrimp until our bellies cried Uncle! Oh, those shrimp! Zesty and boasting a bevy of spices. Don’t be deterred by the long list of spices. None of them are unusual and you just may have everything already in your pantry. Toss in some baby red potatoes (start the taters first and cook until tender) and fresh corn cut into 2-inch “coins” along with the shrimp for a full meal. Add a little cornbread on the side, spiced with jalapeños or not, and some icy cold beer. A mint julep or two will do nicely with your meal as well.
New Orleans-style Shrimp Boil
Adapted from Bon Appetit
2 white onions, halved crosswise
1 head of garlic, halved crosswise
5 whole cloves
4 bay leaves
2 tablespoons kosher or sea salt
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
4 teaspoons mustard seeds
2 teaspoons dill seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 teaspoons whole allspice
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 large lemon or 2 small ones, peel and juices
Hot pepper sauce, to taste
1 1/2 pounds unpeeled large shrimp
Freshly chopped or dried parsley for garnish, optional
Combine the onion and garlic along with all of the spices with about 8 cups of water in a large pot, and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 20 minutes. With a vegetable peeler remove the peel from the lemon and add to the pot. Squeeze in the juice from lemon as well.
Add a few dashes of hot sauce (or more if you like it spicy), and the shrimp. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp are pink and just cooked through, about 3 minutes.
Turn off heat, add 5 cups of ice cubes, and steep for 3-5 minutes. Remove the shrimp (and potatoes and corn if you added them) with a slotted spoon and place in a serving bowl or dump onto clean newspaper laid over a large serving plate.
Garnish with freshly chopped parsley or a few shakes of dried, and a few of the bay leaves fished out of the water.
P.S. This recipe is also great with crab!