Shrimping with Dad

When I was a little girl, shrimping was a part of most weekends during the shrimp season. Dad's boat, the Rainbow Runner, had sparkly rainbow stripes along the sides. I loved to go out with him, cast net and all! One day we put the boat in the water at Shem Creek Boat landing.  It is the busiest in town. The boat was on a trailer behind my grandfather's old green wood-paneled station wagon, and Dad was backing it down the ramp into the water when the brakes gave out. The boat and station wagon rolled right into Shem Creek and sank, putting a real wrench in the plans of the other boaters who were lined up for their turn to use the ramp. The station wagon and boat were towed out and put back into working condition. Weeks after we thought the station wagon had finally dried out,  we saw more water draining from the old car.

Though the Rainbow Runner, nor the station wagon, are with us any longer, the tradition of shrimping is still the same. Open my dad's refrigerator any time of day, any time of year, and there will be a porcelain bowl full of boiled shrimp, or as my father pronounces it, "bull shrimp," in his Lowcountry accent. He also likes to put the cold "bull shrimp" in a resealable plastic bag, put the bag in the cooler, and take it out in the boat. We peel the shrimp as we eat, tossing the shells overboard into the water. 

When I asked him how he fixes his shrimp, assuming there would be some kind of secret method or some seasoning involved, this is what he told me: "You don't put anything on those. Soon as you put them in the pot and soon as they turn pink, you take them out. They taste perfectly good without any of that." To translate, here's Dad's "no-recipe" method for "bull shrimp":

  • Head the shrimp if they aren't already headed.
  • Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the shrimp.
  • Boil just until pink, about 2 minutes.
  • Drain in a colander. Chill in the fridge.
  • Serve cold, peeling the shrimp as you eat them.
One reason why Dad’s shrimp don’t need any seasoning is that they are super fresh and right out of the cast net. So try to get the freshest shrimp available. Otherwise, get out the Old Bay!
— Carrie