Gut Rumbles

December 18, 2003

cooking seafood

I made a shrimp and cheese omelet for breakfast this morning, with a couple of pieces of bacon thrown in for color and taste. If you've never had one of those, you should try it sometime. That is one delicious omelet.

Shrimp is one of the most popular seafoods in the world and I constantly am amazed by the number of people who don't know how to cook shrimp. Shrimp may be the cockroaches of the ocean, but they are VERY GOOD to eat when they are prepared properly. I like them any way you can imagine serving them, but they need to be cooked correctly to taste right.

Most people over-cook shrimp. Shrimp turn tough and rubbery when you do that. When I boil shrimp, I put a pot of water on the stove, dose it with every seasoning in my spice cabinet, and bring the water to a boil. Then, I cut the heat off and dump the shrimp in the hot water. When the shrimp turn pink (which takes about two minutes) they are ready to eat. They'll absorb all of that seasoning very quickly.

When I fry them, I peel and bread a batch, then toss them in hot grease for about one minute. As soon as the breading starts to turn golden, the shrimp are done. Scoop 'em out of the pot and eat them with some cole slaw and corn on the cob.

When I sautee shrimp for a stir-fry or anything else I cook in my wok, the shrimp are the last ingredient to enter the mix. Have everything else ready when you toss the peeled and de-veined shrimp into a hot wok with some olive oil, garlic and real butter. Add a dollup of wine and shake and stir for about 90 seconds. The shrimp are done.

Cook them any longer, and you'll fuck them up.

Crab is a different story. I cook the Jawja Blue Crabs I catch for at least 15 minutes before I'll eat one. I know what kind of bait I caught those bastards on, and it was pretty disgusting. If shrimp are the cockroaches of the sea, crabs are the buzzards. They are nasty critters, but they taste good.

How many of my readers know how to pick a Jawja Blue Crab? Have you ever done it? It ain't easy.

Step #1: Once you've cooked the crab, peel his back shell off with your bare hands. Rake off all the gills and that orange shit that is called "crab-fat" by some people I know.

Step#2: Break the crab in half, sideways. Then, dig that lucious meat out of all the hideaways a crab stores it in. Tear the hind legs off correctly, and you end up with a big chunk of meat. Pull off the side-legs and you end up with more meat. Rip the body into quarters after that, and you have MORE meat.

Break off the claws and store them for later research. Claw meat is different from belly-meat on a crab.

Step#3: Collect about two pounds of that white belly-meat and make a crab stew. Invite some friends over to sample what you've done. You'll have a difficult time getting them to go home that night if you serve some beer with the meal.

I love seafood. Where I live, I can catch my own or buy it fresh off a boat. I've never eaten better seafood than I find right where I am. It's the good stuff, and if you live here, you learn to cook it right.

Fuck a Red Lobster.


Okay, I'm salivating. My mouth's hungry! Where's the invite to dinner? In the snail mail? I'll even come early to help prepare the shrimp and bring my own shrimp peeler/deveiner instrument (I have two).

There's truly nothing like a pile of boiled crabs and pitchers of beer on a butcher-paper covered table, with laughter-filled friends.

Posted by: Ms Anna on December 18, 2003 11:44 AM

Amazing coincidence. Not ten minutes ago, the local shrimp purveyor stopped here with his trailer full of heavily iced-down igloo coolers.

Shrimp of every variety. The jumbos were eight inches long. Thats a five-inch chunk of solid shrimp to put on the grill.

Which has just now been loaded with coals and lit. I'm gonna have one helluva lunch today.

Sloop New Dawn
Galveston, TX

Posted by: Jim on December 18, 2003 12:25 PM

A few years back I was installing a system up in Maine, and got a chance to spend a weekend on the coast. There was a place where a boat had just come in loaded with lobsters, and a place on the dock where a guy had a bigass kettle over an oil stove. I bought a huge lobster from a fisherman and the guy on shore cooked it for me, and gave me a styrofoam cup of clarified butter and garlic. There was a 2x12 screwed to the top of pilings at the pier's edge, and someone had chained a couple of cheap pairs of pliers to the 2x12. I stood there breathing the salty smelling air eating a lobster that had been alive only minutes earlier, cracking the claws open with a pair of rusty old pliers,and decided Dead Mobster was just not for me.

I'm a born and bred flatlander, but by god I can see how living by the ocean has it's disticnt appeal.

Posted by: mark on December 18, 2003 12:31 PM

That's one of the few things I enjoy about living in Seattle. Live crab, clams, mussles, scallops, and fresh salmon.

Dear god, I love seafood. And the East coast is just as good. Rock crab, lobster, fish, shrimp....

Dammit, now I'm hungry.

Posted by: Raging Dave on December 18, 2003 12:48 PM

What in the heck is a Jawja Blue Crab? We just hauled in crab pots and got king crab and dungeness. Dungies sell for about $5 a crab here, and king is about $8/pound live.

Posted by: Alaska Kim on December 18, 2003 12:55 PM

Those sound like great recipes, Acidman.

Personally, I don't prefer fried seafood. I like it occasionally, but I prefer broiled or sauteed.

I NEVER boil seafood, unless you consider making a stew, or a chowder, or the like, boiling.

I consider boiling an evil thing because it typically means you are throwing away flavors in the water.

My absolute favorite way to prepare shrimp, no matter what you do with it afterward, is to brine it first. For those of you unfamiliar with the technique:

The shrimp can be deviened and headed, but the shell must be on. Fresh or properly flash frozen. For 2 - 3 pounds of shrimp, take a gallon of water and put in 1/4 cup salt, 1/2 cup sugar, tablespoon Old Bay seasoning.

Now, you can stop there, or you can experiment with every batch. Cumin, dill, wine, rosemary, A-1, worschteshire, ginger, who cares. EXCEPT: No papaya or papain or vinegars; they chemically "cook" the shrimp before they meet the heat.

Play around till you come up with something you like. You bring your concoction to a boil and then immediately cool it down to at least room temp.

You soak the shrimp in that mix in the fridge for at least an hour.

Drain the shrimp and pat dry with paper towels.

Line a broiler pan with scrunched aluminum foil.

Pour a couple of tablespoons of olive oil into a big stainless steel mixing bowl, put the shrimp in there and toss to thoroughly coat the shrimp.

Spread the shrimp onto the broiler pan. Then, under the full heat broiler, two minutes on the first side, remove, flip the shrimp and then one more minute.

Let them cool enough to remove the shells, (that's were all the flavor comes from), and then use them in any recipe. Shrimp pasta, cocktail shrimp, ettoufee (sp), doesn't matter.

They won't be rubbery, but more importantly, they'll keep in the fridge for up to 3 days without getting that way. And the flavor is to die for.

Posted by: Commander Will on December 18, 2003 01:09 PM

STOP.IT.RIGHT.NOW. i am salivating all over my keyboard. altho i love my new (9 yrs) state of colorado, i sorely miss the fresh seafood you are all describing! hell, a delicacy here is fried bull's balls!!! spit-spit!!

Posted by: mikeymom on December 18, 2003 01:30 PM

Don't forget the hushpuppies which, to folks up here in New England, are merely shoes.

Posted by: tomaig on December 18, 2003 02:20 PM

Will you marry me?
Okay, forget marriage, lets just live together, I'll be your love slave , if you' ll be my cook!
Gawd that stuff sounds good! (the food)

Posted by: wanda on December 18, 2003 02:56 PM

Looks like Acidman truly knows the way to a woman's, heart. Yeah, that's it, heart.

DAMN! Look at all the men who cook out there. My husband does NOT do any actual cooking. He does cook ribs on the grill now, though. (You working tonight, baby? That's OK, I'll make ribs. You working tonight too, baby? That's OK, I'll make ribs. Ribs okay with you tonight? You going to be done with that project soon? I'll be making ribs for supper....) No veggies. Just ribs.

I remember one particularly memorable meal. I'd had to work a double shift dispatching in a really crappy part of town, and got home at midnight, ravenous as only a pregnant person can be. Husband had called, told me he was going to bed, and would have my dinner in the oven keeping warm. I was hoping for maybe something like hamburger helper. Oh, please, if there is a God, let it be something edible. I got a quarter pounder that had been kept at 250 degrees for about 6 hours.....

Posted by: SwampWoman on December 18, 2003 03:33 PM

Swampwoman: LOL!
But I guess I can't relate. My husband does all the cooking. He's italian and he can make something delicious out of almost anything in the fridge. He makes spagetti sauce from scratch and it's awesome. I can make a killer halibut chowder, and bake halibut cheeks that will melt in your mouth, but that's about it!

Posted by: Alaska Kim on December 18, 2003 04:13 PM

Don't forget to save the dead man's fingers to feed to the neighbor's cats.

Posted by: Velociman on December 18, 2003 04:29 PM

I just wanna know how you fuck a Red Lobster without getting pinched?

Posted by: Rosemary Esmay on December 18, 2003 06:42 PM

Alaska Kim, get down on your knees every night and thank the Diety of Your Choice for that man. Do all Italian men cook killer spaghetti sauce??? (not that I'm shopping or anything, you understand, but I will ask the question for the benefit of the unmarried wimmen that want to know....)

I stopped at a seaside restaurant in Oregon a few years back and had dungeness crab. It was divine. I don't think the Florida winters were ever as cold as a day at the beach in Oregon in July, though.

Posted by: SwampWoman on December 18, 2003 09:11 PM

Swampwoman, you are so right about the beaches in Oregon during the summer. One goes to the beach not to swim but to sun bathe, but first you have to build a wind fort from driftwood to stay out of the cold wind.

Posted by: Ms Anna on December 18, 2003 10:10 PM

"I just wanna know how you fuck a Red Lobster without getting pinched?"

A red lobster, by definition, is dead. Live ones are green.

Posted by: mark on December 18, 2003 10:13 PM

I may be wrong but I think the Red Lobster that Acidman was speaking of, is the restaurant I right??

Posted by: Sailingcv on December 19, 2003 07:48 AM

Ever hear the story that gets told around the lobster houses in Maine about the chef in San Francisco who ordered 100 lobsters shipped fresh from Maine. They packed the lobsters in seaweed as normal and shipped them via FedEx. They get a call two days later from the chef claiming that the lobsters had all died in route.
"Did they smell bad?" "Nope" "How did you know they were dead?" "They weren't moving at all." "You do know that lobsters enter a torpid state when taken out of water, right?" "Uh, what does that mean?"
Upshot of it, he had thrown out the lobsters, all 100 of them.

Posted by: Mythilt on December 19, 2003 09:20 AM

Oh, and I remember visiting my great aunt and uncle in Maryland when visiting my grandfather. They had a house on the Cheasapeak Bay, oh ghu did those crabs taste good. Just walk out the back door, and up to the pier, pull up a crabcage and choose a couple of large ones. Can't do that as much anymore, none of the crabs seem large enough these days.

Posted by: Mythilt on December 19, 2003 09:24 AM

Swampwoman, it just freaks me out that folks could be cold on an Oregon beach in July! I'd be laying out there, naked as the law allows, laying in the sand trying to get a REAL tan. I was up in Anchorage a couple weeks ago, and it was SO COLD, about zero degrees at night. I actually had to come home earlier than planned. When it gets that cold here, there's no humidity and I get cottonmouth really bad at night. Ya get it so bad you can't sleep more than ten minutes without having to take a sip of water.
Want to come visit?!!

Posted by: Alaska Kim on December 19, 2003 11:33 AM

Alaska Kim, I don't think I'd be visitin' you except maybe on the hottest day of the year, in full arctic gear. (I had to put on sweat pants and sweatshirt and sleep under 3 comforters and one of those below-zero sleeping bags last night, and my house temp is set at 68 degrees....)

OTOH, I've spent a couple years in the Arizona desert without A/C. Naturally, I broke all the rules about hiking with a buddy and always letting people know where you were going. I always carried about 5 gallons of water with me, though.

A couple of my friends are moving up your way. They have a place somewhere in Alaska and he retires this year; they are going to build a concrete dome house.

Posted by: SwampWoman on December 19, 2003 02:08 PM

I tried all this, and it worked out great, except for the last bit. Could you give us a little more detail on the lobster?

Posted by: dipnut on December 19, 2003 03:36 PM

Just as a solid rock is not shaken by the storm, even so the wise are not affected by praise or blame.

Posted by: Minarich Christopher on January 20, 2004 06:20 AM
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