While a shrimp boil is a common spring or summer dish, you can also prepare it during the winter and fall months. A shrimp boil has plenty of seasonings. The meat you use depends on where you are from. Many people make it with andouille, but kielbasa is also a common sausage. Some people find that the kielbasa gives the shrimp boil a fuller flavor.
Choosing the Shrimp
While fresh shrimp is best, you can use frozen shrimp if fresh isn’t available. The shrimp should be brightly colored and should not smell like ammonia. The shells should not be slimy. If you are using whole shrimp, cut the heads off. Leave the peels on. The best size shrimp to use is 16/20 as they are easy to peel but not so big that they are tough. They also have the perfect flavor and texture.
Shrimp Boil Ingredients
Instead of providing the spice and butter for dipping, combine the spice with the butter for a tasty combination of flavors. Soften the butter, then mix it with the spices. Set the mixture aside until the shrimp boil is done cooking. Mix it with the clarified butter just before adding it to the shrimp boil.
Ingredients in a standard shrimp boil include:
- Yellow onions
- Red bell peppers
- Corn-on-the-cob, but into halves or thirds
Add the shrimp last once all the other ingredients are cooked. Continue cooking until the shrimp turn orange or pink (depending on the type you use).
Spices that Explode the Taste Buds
Depending on how you were taught to make a shrimp boil, you might use different spices. This combination of spices makes a shrimp boil that will cause your taste buds to explode:
- Old Bay seasoning (add to the pot when cooking).
- Salt (add to the pot when cooking).
Mix 2 tablespoons of blackened fish seasoning (Badia redfish seasoning has a good spicy kick), 2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast and 3 tablespoons of hot sauce until well blended. Add 1 tablespoon softened salted butter and mix it thoroughly. Add the mixture to ¾ cup of clarified unsalted butter and mix it until the softened butter melts.
Set the mixture aside until the shrimp boil is done cooking.
How to Serve the Shrimp Boil
Some people serve the shrimp boil right from the pot, but if you get a wide serving bowl or tray that will hold the entire boil, including the liquid, it’s easier to mix the butter mixture in. Dump the shrimp boil into the bowl, then pour the butter mixture over the top. Gently mix the butter and ingredients together.
A shrimp boil for four takes about 2 ½ gallons of water, so the serving tray or bowl should be large enough to hold that plus the clarified butter.
Make another batch or two of the butter (depending on the number of people you are serving) so that you can serve the butter and spice mix on the side. Add plates of lemon wedges for those who like to squeeze lemon over their shrimp boil. And, don’t forget the beer!