A Gulf Coast seafood boil can be as simple or as complex as you would like to make it. You might be surprised to learn that a seafood boil has its origins in the French court bouillon (coo-bee-on), a method of quick-cooking seafood in a seasoned stock.
A court bouillon can be nothing more than water and wine, but you can add almost any kind of seasoning that you like. Take a look in your kitchen cabinets and use what you have: Tony Chachere’s Creole seasoning, black peppercorns, Italian seasoning, a little vinegar, just use your imagination.
A classic boil on the Gulf Coast is more often than not an outdoor affaire, involving a picnic table covered in yesterday’s newspaper, a huge pot and gas burner, lots of local and very fresh shrimp, corn on the cob, and small potatoes. Seasoning almost always includes a commercial bag of boil seasoning and/or a bottle of concentrated crab boil as a base, but from there, the sky is the limit.
Try this combination, it’s simple and pretty darn good.
Julian Brunt’s Gulf Coast Seafood Boil Recipe
- Garlic, crab boil (dry)
- Bottle of concentrated crab boil
- Halved lemons or oranges
- Bay leaves
- Quartered onions.
- Fill the pot with water, add all of the ingredients and bring to a rolling boil.
- Turn the heat off and allow the stock to cool. This short rest will allow all the flavors to concentrate.
- Return to a boil, add the potatoes and cook until tender, then do the same with the corn.
- Remove and set aside.
- This is the most important step, Follow it closely. Add the shrimp in small batches. You do not want to cool the stock off too much by crowding the pot with shrimp. Allow the water to return to a boil, then remove the shrimp. Shrimp cook very quickly and should never be boiled for more than a minute or two. Well done shrimp and tough and chewy. If you have never had properly cooked shrimp you will be surprised.
Easy as pie! So, now to the condiments. What kind should you serve with boiled shrimp?
Some people like to use cocktail sauce, or remoulade, but I disagree. Why hide the flavor of shrimp with a heavy sauce? Would you put ketchup on a good steak? Well, to each their own.
My favorite way to serve boiled shrimp is to dress them in a spicy garlic butter, just lots of butter, garlic and a pinch or two of red pepper flakes. Do try to serve this dish to your friends outside as lots of cold beer and paper towels it makes a big difference. Enjoy!