I admire food bloggers- their sites offer photographs of food that are so beautiful they make my mouth water even when they use food I otherwise wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole! It’s doubtful I will ever be a decent food blogger- however food is one of my passions, instilled in me by my grandmother. She was the best cook I’ve ever encountered. I’ve eaten in the finest cities in the United States, I’ve tasted some of the best southern cooking right here in my home county, but Mimi’s recipes are my touchstone. When I cook, I ask myself- ‘Would Mimi think this is fit to eat?’ This recipe is not one of hers but she would have loved it- so here goes…
Simple Spicy Shrimp
Alabama’s Gulf Shrimp is some of the best in the world, there’s even an annual Shrimp Festival! I buy Gulf Shrimp from my local grocery store which gets deliveries almost everyday- the seafood manager has told me if I am not going to use it immediately to freeze it, so I do. If you buy shrimp, let me tell you how old timers gauge if it’s fresh- the next time you are at the Gulf of Mexico-or in the ocean- scoop your hands in the water, smell it deep and long…that’s what fresh’shrimps’ smell like. Strong odor? don’t buy it!
The shrimp in this dish are large (21-30 count per pound) peeled, deveined and tails removed but you can use unpeeled, peeled with tails on, whichever you like; the truth is, if you keep at least the tails on- the sauce will be more flavorful. I used 2 pounds of shrimp. I also made rice according to package directions for 4-6 servings. and I steamed broccoli, adding some lemon zest and 2 wedges of lemon as it was steamed. And I purchased Italian bread and warmed it, then sliced it before serving. Do not add anything to the bread! it is used for dipping!
- This one platter meal serves 3-4. The shrimp cooks in the ‘sauce’. I say that loosely because, this easy sauce thickens as the shrimp cooks. The sauce uses a bottled dressing which I only use for Simple Spicy Shrimp. I prefer making my own salad dressings. I have tried to reproduce this Shrimp without using the bottled dressing and it never turns out right. Since it is so good? Why mess with it?
There are several brands for the Zesty Italian bottled dressing – I prefer Kraft. You may find Lawry’s Seasoned Pepper difficult to find, but it must be used as well. Old Bay Seasoning is readily available – usually in the seafood section. For the Simple Spicy Shrimp, I used-
- 2 lbs. of Uncooked Large Shrimp (thawed, chilled and set aside- until the sauce mix is ready)
For the Sauce-
- 3/4 stick of salted butter (no substitutes)
- 1/2 bottle of the Zesty Italian Dressing
- 1/4 cup of the Lawry’s Seasoned Pepper
- Old Bay to taste- which for me is about a tablespoon.
- 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes (to taste if you are sensitive to spice)
- 1 tablespoon of salt (shrimp needs salt- sea salt is best)
- Zest and juice of one lemon
In a large saucepan, over low heat-gently melt butter. Add Zesty Italian, Lawry’s Seasoned Pepper, Old Bay, red pepper flakes, lemon zest and juice, bring to a gentle bubble. Add Shrimp. *caution, do not leave the saucepan- do not overcook shrimp! Shrimp continues to cook even after you turn off the heat and it will get as rubbery as a garden hose if you bubble or boil it too long! Just let it get gently pink, stirring occasionally. Take off heat, let it shrimp stand in sauce as you are assembling the platter. Cut Italian Bread, drain prepared steamed broccoli and fluff up the rice- add a little lemon zest to the rice if you’re so inclined.
Before I started the shrimp and the sauce, I prepared a large platter as shown, with hydrangea leaves and fig leaves if available. Separate the rice from the broccoli- or shoot! you can just mix it all together – however you want to serve it!
With a large slotted spoon, remove the spicy shrimp from sauce- pour the remaining sauce into a bowl- you’ll want to provide small individual bowls for each guest. (You’ve gotta dip that bread into the sauce and slurp it all over the rice and shrimp and broccoli too!) Decorate platter with lemon wedges and serve! Let me know how you like Simple Spicy Shrimp!
The great food bloggers don’t have anything to worry about from me! Just wanted to give it a try! You know, I get sort of tickled- recently Birmingham Alabama was voted a ‘new foodie’ city and it is; the truth is? I rarely remember a gathering of any sort where food was not cussed and discussed- Southerners love food, they love to eat it- talk about it- fix it, tweak it, fry it- oh yes, and real frying is not like you get in fast food places either…We have always had good food, and good cooks, good bbq joints and fish camps, fine dining, dinners on the ground where tables are groaning with food and folks never leave empty handed- taking a ‘plate’ home. I guess I learned that putting a lot of a few great things on the table, with a little something extra- like a platter of sliced tomatoes, thin slices of onion and fresh cucumbers…truly make a meal easier and oh so good!
Love y’all, Camellia
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