Tallahassee, Florida is home to the Florida State Seminoles, state government, and my family. It’s located in what we call the “panhandle” of our Sunshine State. As you know, the Panhandle borders the Gulf of Mexico, a body of water that has recently met its match thanks to the unbelievable Deep Water Horizon oil spill.
I’m bitter – can you tell? These are the beaches that I grew up on. I spent family vacations, spring breaks, and days in college when we just wanted to relax instead of going to class. I caught my first “real fish” on this shoreline (a 10 pound black drum that was almost as tall as me!), jumped waves with my grandmother, and caught crabs in order to orchestrate “crab races” (it really didn’t take much to entertain me as a child!).
Over the last few weeks, I’ve experienced predictable emotions in response to disaster in the Gulf: anger and sadness. But I’ve also experienced, unpredictably, joy. Unable to to see into the future, Mike and I planned a trip with Boulder friends (who happen to be originally from Louisiana) to head to the beach in the Gulf. And so, while I am angered and saddened by the oil disaster, I am grateful that in light of all of this, we were able to hop on a plane and beat the oil to our destination. We made it. I savored the trip as much as possible, realizing that this would be (short of a miracle) the last chance we would have to visit “my ocean” in the way that I remembered it.
And so, we chartered a boat for a little deep sea fishing and caught, cooked, and ate some snapper
And we made sure to spend plenty of time in the ocean and on the beach…
Cousin Katie’s Delicious Peel n’ Eat Gulf Shrimp Recipe
1/4 cup of Old Bay seasoning (classic – loose powder, not in the bag)
1/4 cup of caraway seeds
1 lb of shrimp (shell and tail on, preferably fresh, if not fresh then at least thawed)
Large pot of water (filled with 1 or 1.5 gallons of water)
Seasoned salt (we like this one called Aunt Cora’s but I think that’s only available regionally)
1/4 cup of white vinegar
Fill the pot with the water, vinegar (vinegar helps make shrimp easy to peel), seeds, salt, and Old Bay. Bring to a rolling boil and add shrimp. Continue cooking until the water just comes to a boil again (sometimes even before.) It’s very important not to overcook the shrimp or they will be rubbery. Once cooked, remove the pot from the heat and strain the shrimp. Your strainer will collect seeds and spices. I serve the shrimp hot or ice cold in a bowl with their seeds and remaining spices. I also dust the shrimp with fresh Old Bay – or even sprinkle it on a plate to dip the shrimp in as I peel them.
Mike and I read about using the famous (or infamous) Sriracha Sauce (with the green lid and rooster on it) to mix with a little mayo. It didn’t sound appealing to me at first but I tried it and it makes for a great tangy yet spicy dipping sauce for the shrimp.
Optional Sriracha Sauce Recipe
1/8 cup of mayonnaise
However much Sriracha you can handle
Mix together to your taste and voila!