I didn't grow up eating pickled shrimp, which is surprising considering my mom's coastal upbringing. Her family spans from the Atlantic beaches of Florida, all the way to the bayous of Louisiana. Seafood made regular appearances at our family gatherings, but usually in the form of spicy gumbos and jambalayas.
It wasn't until I attended an annual Christmas Day cocktail party a few years back with my now fiancé that I discovered the wonder that is Sea Island Shrimp. There were many notable Southern dishes at the table that day—deviled eggs, flaky biscuits, and beef tenderloin sandwiches come to mind—but it was the vinegary pickled shrimp that had me heading back for more.
It has since become a regular staple when I entertain from home. While traditionally served as an appetizer, I could definitely find plenty of other uses for my favorite tangy shrimp. Tossed with orzo, it would make for an interesting pasta salad; piled on buttered and toasted bread, it would transform into a delightful po' boy of sorts.
And while this recipe is worthy of being made year-round, I find it tastes even better in the throes of summer, when turning on a kitchen appliance is the last thing you want to do in grasps of the Georgia heat.
Southern-Style Pickled ShrimpServes 6 to 8
1 Vidalia or sweet onion, thinly sliced
1 lemon, thinly sliced
3/4 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup capers with their juices
3/4 teaspoon celery seeds
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
Splash of Tabasco sauce, to taste
1 1/2 pounds (41/50 count) peeled and cooked shrimp
In a large bowl, combine the onions, lemon, cider vinegar, canola oil, capers, celery seeds, sugar, salt, and Tabasco. Add the shrimp and toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate for a minimum of 24 hours, stirring occasionally. Serve chilled. Keeps for at least a week.
(Images: Nealey Dozier)