“Bayou Boiled Shrimp Salad” is a flavorful way to serve Gulf Coast shrimp. It is a pleasant alternative to fried seafood found in many restaurants. For a unique twist, I boiled the shrimp in my own “seafood boil” blend of spices. The shrimp absorb the seasonings resulting in a flavorful and tender dish. Toss the chilled, boiled shrimp with few other ingredients and salad dressing. This is one of my favorite Louisiana recipes.
Crawfish and Shrimp Boils
Crawfish, crab and shrimp boils are common happenings in Louisiana, especially in the spring and summer when these crustaceans are plentiful. The seafood is boiled in their shells in a very a large pot — usually outside with a gas or propane tank burner. A blend of seasonings added to the water gives the characteristic spicy flavor to the seafood. Guests at the seafood boil each peel their own crawfish, shrimp or crabs.
I rarely use the large pouches of of commercial “seafood boil” spice blends — they go to waste — as does the liquid concentrated seafood boil. It is easy enough to concoct a similar spice blend using common ingredients in one’s pantry.
So for this shrimp salad, I am having a little fun stirring up my own seafood spice blend which includes bay leaves, yellow mustard seeds, whole cloves, black peppercorns and cayenne pepper. It is just the right quantity for one batch of boiled shrimp.
Making the Recipe
For this recipe, I am using defrosted, frozen but raw, peeled shrimp tails. To boil the shrimp, add the spices to a large pot of water along with a fresh lemon and onion. Bring the water to a boil. Add the shrimp — return to a boil and let boil three minutes (for frozen and defrosted shrimp) or until the shrimp turn pink. For fresh shrimp in the shells, boil about five minutes.
The dressing is simply mayonnaise with a tiny bit of creole mustard along with the seasonings of celery and green onions. I served the shrimp salad with lettuce, tomato wedges and hard boiled eggs.My recipe for shrimp salad dates back to my food service years at Valley Food Service which operated an institutional hospital food service and cafeteria. This hospital had an upscale cafeteria — as good as any restaurant. The shrimp salad was a very popular item on the cafeteria menu; I quickly learned to like the dish.
I really didn’t have much of an opportunity to sample shrimp and all the various recipes using shrimp until moving to Louisiana. Fresh shrimp just wasn’t available in the Northeast where I grew up.
But shrimp are widely available in southern Louisiana. I was surprised to discover vendors with their trucks along the sides of roads selling whole, freshly caught shrimp during spring shrimp season (which ended June 28 this year). The same raw fresh shrimp in their shells is also found in grocery stores. Purchasing fresh shrimp involves cooking, peeling and de-veining the shrimp yourself but is well worth the effort.
I like the convenience of frozen, peeled raw shrimp that are also sold in grocery stores. Perhaps a little more expensive, but worth it. Frozen, peeled shrimp with heads removed are sold by count which corresponds to their size. The count is usually a range and refers to the number of shrimp that you can expect to get in one pound. Hence, the smaller the number, the larger the size of shrimp. As you can see from photos, these are very small shrimp — they are 71 to 90 count. When making this salad, I recommend using a lower count or larger sized shrimp — perhaps medium-size shrimp or 41 to 50 count.
Here’s a shrimp salad I made with the medium-sized shrimp prepared from the whole, raw shrimp pictured above. In this case, you need about six to eight shrimp per serving for a nice sized entree salad. (These are not graded by count since they still have the shell attached.)
Many Ways to Serve Shrimp
Since moving to Louisiana, I have learned that there are many recipes to serve shrimp. Although fried shrimp is probably the most traditional and common way, it is worth it to try other ideas, too. Shrimp salad is a tasty way to serve Gulf of Mexico shrimp. Enjoy!
Bayou Boiled Shrimp Salad
- 1 lb medium-size, frozen peeled shrimp, 41 to 50 count
- 1 lemon, halved
- 1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tsp yellow mustard seeds
- 1 tsp whole black peppercorns, or 1/4 tsp fresh ground peppercorns
- 1/2 tsp whole clove seeds
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 celery stick, diced
- 2 green onions, sliced
- 1/3 cup mayonnaise (or as needed)
- 1 tsp Creole mustard
- shredded lettuce, quartered tomatoes and halved hard boiled eggs
Method and Steps:
- Defrost the frozen shrimp in cold water. This should take about 15 minutes. Then drain and set aside.
- Add 3 quarts of water to a large, heavy pot.
- Squeeze the juice of the lemon into the water and add the rind of the lemon to the water, too.
- Add the onion and other seasonings — bay leaves, yellow mustard seeds, whole black peppercorns (or fresh ground peppercorns), whole cloves and cayenne pepper. Bring to a boil on the stove.
- When the water is boiling, add the defrosted and drained shrimp. Return to rolling boil and boil for three minutes or until the shrimp are pink.
- Remove from the stove, let set on the counter for 30 minutes to let the shrimp steep and to absorb the spice flavors.
- Then drain the shrimp, removing the onion, lemon rind and seeds, bay leaves and all the seasonings. Chill in refrigerator.
- To finish the salad, add the diced celery and sliced green onion to the shrimp.
- Mix the mayonnaise and Creole mustard together and pour over the shrimp mixture. Gently toss to combine ingredients.
- Serve shrimp salad with shredded lettuce, quartered tomatoes and halved hard boiled eggs.
During a recent visit to the Gulf of Mexico coast of Mississippi, we watched a very small fishing boat trolling up and down in the bay along the Gulf. I am guessing that the nets were out to catch shrimp. It was quiet and peaceful scene.