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Shrimp Boil

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Shrimp boil
Booleansplit/Flickr/CC BY 2.0
This meal is always a favorite, for so many reasons: it's fun, easy, a one-pot meal, and certainly a conversation breaker--you can't avoid plenty of casual chatter while chewing corn off a cob or peeling shrimp with your already messy hands! And...most of all...it's delicious!

Some people add other ingredients, such as andouille sausage, artichokes, or even other shellfish.

Yield: 6

Ingredients:

  • Equipment: 1 large pot in which to boil 4 quarts of water
  • 1 1/2 cups salt
  • 2 lemons, sliced
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 3 tablespoons cayenne pepper
  • 12 medium red potatoes (about 3 pounds)
  • 4 large ears corn, broken in half
  • 2 pounds large shrimp, 21-25 per pound count *see note

Preparation:

Add 4 quarts water to the pot, along with the salt, lemon, onion, and cayenne and bring to a strong boil. Allow to boil for 5 minutes. Add the potatoes and allow to come up to a simmer; simmer until fork-tender, about 20 minutes.

Add corn to the pot, again bring to a simmer and simmer for 5 minutes.

Add shrimp and bring to a boil. By the time the water reaches a boil, the shrimp should be done--opaque rather than translucent. Don't overcook the shrimp.

Drain all ingredients or lift them out of the pot and transfer to a large serving platter, or place them on the center of a newspaper-covered table. The onion and lemon slices may be removed, but I like to keep them in for flavor and color.

May be served with a sauce: cocktail, remoulade, or just melted butter.

*Shrimp are sold by "count." Standard counts are, per pound:
under 10; 10 to 15; 16 to 20; 21 to 25; 26 to 30; 31 to 35; 36 to 42; 42 to 50; and 50 to 60.

The usual size for shrimp dishes served in restaurants is 16 to 20 per pound; small shrimp are the best size for shrimp salad, shrimp cocktails, stews and gumbos. Use medium shrimp for shrimp boils and deep fried shrimp; large shrimp for broiling, grilling or barbecuing.

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