Shrimp season is in full swing, and the harvest seems exceptionally good this season.
Biloxi is famous for its seafood industry and living in on the Misssissippi Gulf Coast with its abundance of fresh seafood is a blessing I never expected.
As a kid growing up, seafood was a rare treat, and when we visited a seafood restaurant I could never decide what to order.
My compromise was a seafood platter, that way I’d get a little bit of everything, but today, with Desporte & Sons Seafood just down the street from my house, I visit at least once a week.
Even so, seafood remains special to me.
Wild-caught Mississippi shrimp is a favorite of mine, and boiling them is perhaps the most common way to prepare them.
Next time you boil up some shrimp, instead of using a commercial seasoning make your own seasoning.
It’s really not that hard.
Shrimp and grits is another popular way to eat shrimp these days. The idea originated in the Carolina Low Country, but has spread throughout the South and the rest of the nation.
Use fresh ground grits — Original Grit Girl brand from Oxford can be found at local farmers markets — it will take your shrimp and grits recipe to new heights. Always use the best-quality ingredients you can find and afford and do not overcook the shrimp.
Lastly, the king of all po-boys, at least in these parts, the fried shrimp po-boy.
Most people go out to get their shrimp po-boys at places such as Bozo’s, 2012 Ingalls Ave., Pascagoula; BB’s Po-Boy & Seafood, 1300 Bienville Blvd., Ocean Springs; Po-boy Express, 2422 Government St., Ocean Springs; Desportes and Sons Seafood, 1075 Division St., Biloxi; The Fillin Station, 692 Howard Ave., Biloxi; or Pirates Cove, 208 Menge Ave., Pass Christian (not a complete list by any measure).
Those places certainly make some of the best shrimp po-boys around, but try making your own shrimp po-boy sometime and start with the recipe I share today.
Take advantage of one of the greatest benefits of living on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, the fresh shrimp and seafood being harvested right here every day.
Thanks to Max Ly for this recipe.
Technically this is a compromise recipe, since we will use a little prepared boil mix. We will, however, supplement it with a lot of other ingredients.
Head-on, large wild-caught Mississippi shrimp
½ cup seafood boil mix
2-3 chopped jalapeno peppers
2-3 tablespoons chili oil
2-3 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons granulated garlic
2 chopped onions
2 cups rough chopped celery
1 orange cut into quarters
Enough sausage (my favorite for this recipe is Conecuh brand) for everyone to have a piece or two
At least 5 gallons of water
For best results, combine all the ingredients — minus the shrimp — bring to a boil, then allow to completely cool. Reheat to a boil, add the shrimp, return to a boil and immediately turn the heat off. Do not allow the shrimp to overcook, but let them soak for a few minutes. Drain and serve still hot.
Shrimp and Grits
1-pound large shell-off shrimp
1 cup grits (my favorite brand is Original Grit Girl)
2-3 cups chicken stock
½ cup heavy cream
½ stick butter
1 cup your favorite melting cheese
2-3 diced red ripe (and fragrant) tomatoes
½ diced red onion
1 chopped bell pepper
1 diced jalapeno pepper (no seeds)
Chachere’s Créole Seasoning, freshly ground black pepper
Bring the stock to a slow simmer, whisk in the grits and simmer until almost done. You may have to add more stock (make sure it is not cold). Add the butter, cream and cheese and finish cooking. Sauté the tomatoes, bell pepper, red onion and jalapeno in olive oil for 10 minutes, season aggressively. Add the shrimp and cook over medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Plate the grits and top with sauce and shrimp.
I am not going to take you through step by step in constructing a po-boy, I think you can figure that out. But I am going to tell you how to fry the shrimp the way I like it the best.
1 pound large shell off shrimp
1 package tempura powder
1 package Panko bread crumbs
Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning
Pot filled no more than half way with good, clean oil
Heat the oil to 325 f. Toss the shrimp in the tempura powder (dry) that you have seasoned with Tony’s. When they are tacky, toss in the bread crumbs, toss to remove excess. Fry in small batches, cooking no more than 2 minutes. Serve at once.