Pick a Peck of Pickled……Shrimp?
I don’t know if I could live without the sound of the sea in my ears. Going to the beach isn’t for me, but I like to get a glimpse of the enormity of all that water. It’s assuring to know I’m this close to the Wonderful Wild World of Atlantic Seafood.
People can quibble with me all they like, and I will still stick my nose up high and proclaim the obvious: shrimp trapped in nets along the Mid-Atlantic coast are the best on earth. The large ones are eight or nine fat, juicy inches long from tip to tail, two or three bites of luscious meat. Even more if one eats the tail, too. Living beyond the reach of our Seafood Wonderland would be tough for my palate to take.
One of my favorite go-to snacks in these lean dieting days is pickled shrimp. About every three days, I visit the local ramshackle seafood store, a dark den of leaning wood on a busy street corner. It is scented like I imagine the bottom of the sea would smell if I could breathe it in without drowning: brine, pluff mud and fish that are dead, dead, dead.
Oh, and shrimp. Large and small. Three pounds of large, heads off. That’s what I buy every three days. They start stuffing the gullet of a big plastic bag as soon as I darken the door. We pickle the whole lot of them, because it’s just the best Southern way to eat them fresh.
Doubt me? Try Hugh Acheson’s great recipe from Saveur.
Hugh Acheson’s Pickled Shrimp (Or Prawns, if that’s where you are)
MAKES ABOUT 6 CUPS
2 tbsp. Old Bay seasoning
1 lb. (26–30 count) medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
½ tsp. celery seeds
¼ tsp. allspice berries
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
⅓ cup fresh lemon juice
¼ cup packed flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped
1 tbsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. crushed red chile flakes
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
12 dried bay leaves
½ medium yellow onion, thinly sliced lengthwise
1. Bring Old Bay and 8 cups water to a boil in a 4-qt. saucepan; add shrimp, reduce heat to low, and cook until shrimp are pink, about 2 minutes. Drain and transfer to bowl of ice water to chill; drain again.
2. Finely grind celery seeds and allspice in a spice grinder; transfer to a bowl and stir in oil, juice, parsley, salt, chile flakes, garlic, and bay leaves. In a 1-qt. glass jar, layer shrimp and onions; pour over oil mixture. Cover with lid; chill overnight before serving.