Summer is for seafood as far as I’m concerned. And what makes it better is catching it yourself. I’ve made several trips to Marsh Island, where Vermilion Bay meets the Gulf of Mexico, in the past few weeks and they have all been fruitful. My buddy Pat and I always leave just when the sun is peeking out of the eastern sky.
The ritual is always the same—stop to get bait, ice, and a big, warm sausage biscuit at the convenience store before heading out to Cypremort Point to launch his Boston Whaler in which we have stowed our crab traps, cast nets, two ice chests (one to chill our water and soft drinks, and one for our catch) and a small tote bag with our sandwiches and chips. Oh, happy day!
On a good day, we usually have a few dozen crabs and several pounds of shrimp by mid-morning. We eat our lunch in the shade of the scraggly oaks and discuss the possibilities for dinner. By mid-summer, we’ve gone through our seafood repertoire (shrimp stew, boiled crabs, crab cakes and seafood salad) and try to be a little creative. This year, our friend Johnny has been supplying us with sweet corn, which we’ve paired with our shrimp.
SHRIMP AND CORN SALAD
- Makes about 8 servings
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
- 1 lemon, halved
- 1 lemon (squeezed – you should have about 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice)
- 3 pounds medium-size shrimp (peeled but leave the tail on)
- 1/2 cup minced red onions
- 1/2 cup minced celery
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh dill
- 3 cups fresh corn kernels (frozen can be substituted)
- 1 1/4 cup mayonnaise (about
- Hot sauce
- Toasted French bread slices
Combine the salt and cayenne in a pot of water (about 1/2 gallon) and bring to a boil. Squeeze one of the lemons over the water, then drop in the rinds. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the shrimp. Simmer until the shrimp are bright pink and the tails have curled, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool. Remove the tails. You can leave the tails whole, or cut each in two or three pieces.
*If using frozen corn, put it into a colander and run hot tap water to defrost.
Combine the shrimp, corn, onions, celery and dill in a large salad bowl.
Combine the 3 tablespoons of lemon juice with the mayonnaise and whisk to blend.
Add the mayonnaise to the shrimp mixture and toss gently to coat evenly. Adjust seasoning if necessary. Cover and chill for at least one hour.
When serving, pass the hot sauce at the table with the toasted French bread slices.
This was a favorite of my father’s. He cleaned the crab shells so he could stuff them with the crabmeat mixture. If you don’t want to go to the trouble, you can put the crabmeat mixture in small ramekins or other baking dishes.
DEVILED CRABSMakes 8 to 10 servings
- 6 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 cup chopped green onions
- 2 or 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (or to taste)
- 1 pound lump crabmeat, picked over for shells and cartilage
- 1 1/2 cups butter, melted
- 5 cups soft breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
- Salt and cayenne
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Combine the eggs, onions, lemon juice and crabmeat in a bowl. Add 1 cup of the melted butter, about 4 cups of the breadcrumbs and the parsley. Toss gently to mix well. Season with salt and cayenne.
Spoon the mixture into cleaned crab shells or baking dishes. Sprinkle each with equal amounts of breadcrumbs.
Bake until heated through, about 20 minutes. To brown the tops, put under the broiler for a minute or two. Serve hot.
If you want something cool, this salad will fit the bill.
ORZO SEAFOOD SALADMakes about 8 servings
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Creole mustard
- 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
- 1⁄4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 cup uncooked orzo
- 2 cups fresh yellow corn kernels (about 4 ears)
- 1 cup lump crabmeat or 1 cup chopped boiled shrimp
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half
- 1⁄2 cup sliced red onions
- 1⁄2 cup sliced black olives
- 1⁄2 cup hearts of palm, cut crosswise into 1⁄2-inch pieces
- 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
Combine the dressing ingredients in jar and shake vigorously to blend. Cook the orzo in large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes.
Add the corn and cook about 2 minutes more or until the pasta is still firm to the bite. Drain and place in large bowl.
Add half the dressing and toss to coat. Cool a bit, then add the remaining ingredients and the rest of the dressing and toss to coat. Cover and chill until ready to serve.
These are fun to serve at a casual gathering. Pass these around or put them on a buffet table with tartar sauce.
MINI SHRIMP KABOBSMakes about 3 dozen
- 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped chives or green onions (green parts only)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
- 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
- 2 pounds medium-size shrimp, peeled and deveined
Combine all of the ingredients, except for the shrimp, in a shallow dish.
Thread the shrimp on six-inch bamboo skewers and place in the marinade.
Refrigerate for two to three hours, turning the skewers several times to coat the shrimp evenly.
Remove the shrimp from the marinade and reserve the marinade. Put the shrimp on a lightly greased rack of a broiler pan. Broil about six inches from the heat for three to four minutes on each side, basting once or twice. Serve hot or cold.
CREOLE TARTAR SAUCE
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
- 2 tablespoon chopped green onions
- 1 cup olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
- 1 tablespoon Creole mustard
- 1 teaspoon salt
Combine the egg, garlic, lemon juice, parsley and green onions in a food processor and pulse several times to blend.
With the motor running, pour the oil in a steady stream through the feed tube. Add the cayenne, mustard and salt and pulse to blend.
Put into an airtight container and chill for at least 1 hour before using.
Best if used within 24 hours due to the raw egg.