Anna and I both happened to be at the beach last week (different beaches). Relaxing at the beach took me back to the food we ate during our annual trip to Emerald Isle, NC with dear family friends. We had some sort of fresh seafood most nights, and my mom often made peel n' eat shrimp. That’s one of Anna’s family beach trip traditions too!
As I watched my children and their cousins laughing and diving and jumping waves, I found myself reflecting on Anna’s most recent post An Open Letter to My Daughter's Camp Counselor. When we focus on what not to eat or what we think we are supposed to eat, or weight loss; we miss out on life. Instead of enjoying connecting with friends and family, we are distracted. Food provides opportunities to create meaningful connections, traditions and memories.
Peel N' Eat Shrimp
Anna and I each make peel n' eat shrimp a little differently. I make it the way my mom did: by seasoning the water with some veggies, salt, and lemon. Anna's family cooks the shrimp in unseasoned water. I love this! It doesn’t get any easier!! We had cocktail sauce my mom made by mixing horseradish into ketchup. I think we also had plain ketchup for those who didn't want any spice. Anna's family sets out horseradish and ketchup to allow everyone to make their sauce as spicy or mild as they like.
I’m so glad I made peel n' eat shrimp when I was at the beach! WHY don’t I make this for dinner at home sometimes??? It’s SO EASY! And the smell of the water as it came to a boil with plenty of salt, celery, carrot, onion and some fresh, flat leaf parsley took me back to heart warming memories of our yearly trips to Emerald Isle.
Another method is to roast it in the oven instead of boiling it. I’m definitely going to try that soon!
Cut along the back, through the shell with kitchen scissors. This makes it easy to devein and to peel once cooked. Remove the vein with the tip of the scissors and wipe them on a paper towel.
TIP- if you don’t like to devein shrimp, you can ask the fishmonger if they will do it for you. It’s usually only $1 a pound extra. It's totally worth not having to do it yourself.
You don't have to devein the shrimp. As you can see from the photos, I didn't.
Rinse the shrimp under cold water and set aside. Add 6 cups of water to a medium size pot. Add 2 teaspoons of salt, 1 carrot - chopped, 1 rib of celery - chopped, ¼ of a yellow onion - peeled, ¼ of a lemon, and a few sprigs of flat leaf parsley. Place the pot over high heat. Bring the water to a boil.
Add the shrimp. When the water comes to a boil and the shrimp rises to the top, turn off the heat. Empty the pot into a colander. Put a few ice cubes in the colander to speed up the cooling process.
Serve with corn on the cob and a salad for an easy meal that might leave you feeling like you're on a trip to the beach. Enjoy!
More Beach Food Traditions
Anna’s family often makes tapas while they're at the beach. Everyone contributes a dish. I love this idea because it’s a great way to share cooking duties and an opportunity to try some new foods.
I have fond memories of grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch. My memory is of us standing at the stove in our still-wet bathing suits making our sandwiches.
Chad’s (my husband's) family makes BLTs for lunch. There are often 20-plus people in a house which makes for a steady stream of bacon cooking!
The Importance of Traditions
I have such happy memories of spending the day riding waves (or floating on rafts on those days the ocean was almost still) on our canvas rafts. We’d end the day with lively conversation around the dinner table and sometimes play a game or read after dinner. The beach house we rented didn’t have a TV and this was before laptops, tablets, and such.
Every year I looked forward to our time at Emerald Isle. The tradition of going to the same place with the same family gave me such a sense of connectedness to our friends and to Emerald Isle. The food we ate while we were there is part of those memories and that connectedness. I have been in Durham, NC all week while Ellie attended camp at the Duke Lemur Center. So, I've had the pleasure of seeing those dear family friends a few times. YAY!
When Caroline and Ellie smell bacon cooking or think of BLTs, I hope they’ll be transported back to the special memories of time spent at the beach with 20 plus relatives.
What are your favorite summer vacation food traditions? We’d love to hear from you.
Peel N Eat Shrimp
- 1 Pound Shrimp Shell on, deveined
- 6 Cups water
- 2 teaspoon salt
- 1 carrot chopped
- 1 rib of celery chopped
- ¼ onion peeled
- ¼ lemon
- a few sprigs of flat leaf parsley
- Devein shrimp. Rinse the shrimp in cold water and set them aside.
- Bring 6 cups of water with salt to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat.
- Cut the carrot into large pieces. No need to peel it. Cut the celery into large pieces. Peel and quarter the onion. Quarter a lemon. Rinse 3-4 sprigs of parsley.
- Add the carrot, celery, ¼ onion, ¼ lemon, and 3-4 sprigs of parsley to the water.
- Once the water comes to a boil, add the shrimp. Leave the heat on high.
- Allow the water to come back to a boil. When the shrimp begin to rise to the top, they are cooked.
- Turn off the heat and drain the shrimp over the sink into a colander.
- Place in a bath of ice water to stop the cooking. Or just spread them on a serving dish and let them cool in one layer.
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Grilling peel-and-eat shrimp is also easy and delicious! Our fish monger sold us whole shrimp and told us to grill them—heads and all.
They’re big enough that they don’t fall through the grate. You just need to toss them enough to cook them all evenly.
The presentation is amazing. The heads and antenna are visually interesting. It made me feel like we had just caught them ourselves. Just watch out for the sharp part of their head.
HI Dan, Thank you so much for reading the post and commenting. I love the idea of grilling whole shrimp! What did the kids think of them?!