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Super simple shrimp
Old Hinesville
It's easy to cook up shrimp
I have been a real shrimp lover since I was a little girl. In the 1950s we were visiting the newly opened Epworth-by-the-Sea, the Methodist Center on St. Simons Island. The dining hall served fried fantail shrimp. It was indeed love at first bite. I ate all of mine and begged for more from my parents’ plates. Finally my Dad asked the dietitian, Mrs. Cason, to please bring me some more. She did and I ate those too! This from a notoriously picky eater!
I am very particular about my shrimp; very few restaurants prepare them to my satisfaction. Fortunately, we have two in our area that do. I much prefer to cook them at home; it only takes a few minutes and the results are mouth watering.
Since moving to this coastal area 39 years ago, I have become very fond of the fresh shrimp caught in our own waters. I never eat them breaded or fantailed any more, but rather in the simple ways I am going to share with you.
The first step toward delightfully perfect shrimp is to buy the shrimp themselves. I patronize our local fresh seafood store, Phillips Seafood, located between Highway 84 and South Main Street, behind Poole’s or Carter’s Funeral Home, depending upon the direction from which you are coming.
I usually buy 1/2 pound of their medium shrimp for myself, so judge accordingly. When you buy the shrimp you will be asked if you need to have ice added to the bag. If you are going to stop anywhere, even briefly, before you get home, by all means have them add the ice. It is essential that shrimp should be kept cold at all times. Don’t buy the shrimp until you are ready to cook it. It doesn’t like to sit around long in the refrigerator.
To perfectly boil shrimp, take a large saucepan and fill it about two-thirds full of cold water. Put this on a stove burner over high heat. To this water add the juice of one lemon, freshly squeezed. I also like to add sprinklings of Old Bay seasoning, ground thyme, ground oregano, and a little salt. If you want the shrimp to be very spicy, add a few drops of hot sauce. Let this come to a boil. While the water is boiling, put the shrimp into a colander and rinse them thoroughly under cold running water, then let them drain.  THIS NEXT IS VERY IMPORTANT: once the water is fully boiling, add the shrimp. Stand right there by the pot, watching the stove clock or a very trusty timer, and let the shrimp cook no more than two minutes. Take them off the heat immediately and pour back into the colander to drain. You are almost ready to peel and eat.
You will want to have some kind of dipping sauce ready. A tasty one can be made by mixing mayonnaise and chunky salsa (I use mild). Another old standby is mixing mayonnaise and ketchup, perhaps with a little lemon juice or Worcestershire sauce. Still another variation is mixing sour cream, light or regular, with ketchup. Try any of these and you will be prepared to experience the unimaginable bliss of seafood prepared this way!
I rarely fry shrimp anymore, since I need to limit my fried foods, but when I do, this is how I do it:
The fresh shrimp need to be peeled, and deveined, if that is your preference. I don’t do it myself, as I find the vein not to be objectionable in our wild Georgia shrimp. Rinse the peeled shrimp completely under running water and let drain.
Fill a large saucepan two-thirds to three-fourths full of cooking oil and let heat on high. Place the drained shrimp in a large plastic bag with your choice of one of the seafood frying coatings or plain cornmeal or plain flour and meal. Add whatever seasonings you like at that time. Salt and pepper or one of the combination seasonings is sufficient. Shake the shrimp in the bag to thoroughly coat them. When the oil seems to be hot enough, put a few drops of flour or meal in the pot. If it sizzles and “talks” to you, the oil should be ready. You can also use a cooking thermometer and let the oil reach 375.
When the oil is ready, carefully place the shrimp into it. This also is a very quick process. The shrimp will float to the top when they are done. Use a slotted spoon or spatula to take them up and drain them on paper towels. A dear friend, Mrs. Mildred Bacon, fried the best shrimp I have ever eaten. She used a tall pot, and stood right there taking them up almost as soon as she put them in. There is nothing less edible than tough, overcooked shrimp. There is nothing better than shrimp correctly prepared.
The microwave also comes into use in cooking shrimp. My good friend, Mrs. Cassie Tanner, shared with me the way she likes to cook them. I have tried it and I find it excellent also, especially when I am in a hurry or too hungry to wait for the water to boil.
Rinse the fresh shrimp thoroughly, as above. Let them drain. These are also cooked in the shells. Place the shrimp in a microwavable bowl. Sprinkle them with a touch of hot sauce and other seasonings as desired. Cook them anywhere from one to two minutes, on full power, depending upon the wattage of your microwave. Let cool, peel, dip and enjoy!
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