Southern Alabama has at all times been my dwelling. Properly, all however my first 9 years, however even then we lived shut sufficient to Cellular (the town) for the three D’s: the physician, the dentist and dance courses.
Southern Alabama is made up of two counties: Cellular County on the west aspect of Cellular Bay and Baldwin County on the east aspect. They’re the one two counties within the Yellowhammer State that border the Gulf of Mexico.
Recent seafood is plentiful in all places on this area. Thus, it could come as no shock that the “Seafood Capital of Alabama” is Bayou La Batre, a little bit fishing village of possibly 2,500 folks situated a couple of half hour drive southwest of Cellular down on the Mississippi Sound.
For so long as I can bear in mind, Bayou La Batre was the place you headed for the freshest, greatest oysters round. Going inside a seafood shop wasn’t vital; you simply drove down there with a cooler and appeared for anyone taking their haul off the boat.
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It was a special world, with the shipbuilding business on full show as you entered the small bayou neighborhood. No glitz or fashionable retailers — simply exhausting working folks.
The shoreline stunned me probably the most on my first journey to “The Bayou.” As we drove alongside the seaside highway, I noticed as soon as stately properties on lovely unspoiled waterfront heaps with mossy oaks nonetheless standing. That they had been left largely in varied states of disrepair, echoing again to a bygone period when instances have been extra affluent there.
Bayou La Batre gained a little bit little bit of nationwide notoriety when “Forrest Gump” got here out in 1994. Within the film and within the ebook by Winston Groom, it was the house of Forrest’s military buddy, Bubba, and later Forrest’s dwelling throughout his time as a shrimp boat captain. Although it wasn’t truly filmed in Bayou La Batre, it was a fairly good depiction nonetheless.
Life modified in a single day on Aug. 29, 2005, when Hurricane Katrina practically wiped Bayou La Batre off the map for good. It was, unquestionably, the tip of an period. The neighborhood was decimated.
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Fortunately, I hung out in The Bayou within the Nineties, lengthy earlier than Katrina. I turned good pals with a household whose shipbuilding enterprise had been there for the reason that late Thirties, and my pal’s mother nonetheless lived there at the moment.
They have been a giant household crammed with distinctive cooks, nice story tellers and gifted musicians. Should you did not prepare dinner, you sang. Should you did not sing (or prepare dinner), you performed an instrument or found out the way to entertain the children. There have been a couple of who might do all of it, however everybody had a component to play. It was that form of household.
And people who might prepare dinner . . . let me inform you, they may prepare dinner! If household or pals occurred to drop by and keep lengthy sufficient, any given day would flip right into a celebration. Guitars would come out, household harmonies and laughter would fill the air and good meals would appear to seem from all instructions.
Coming from a small, quiet household, I simply loved the present and the meals. These have been a number of the greatest years of my life.
Pickled Shrimp is among the first recipes I bear in mind falling in love with again within the day. These shrimp have been at all times part of the celebrations and get-togethers down on The Bayou. Earlier than we begin cookin’, here is a better take a look at the foremost substances:
Wild-caught, Gulf of Mexico shrimp are what I’d suggest, however any wild shrimp could be scrumptious.
Oil and vinegar
This recipe has been round for a really very long time. Like a lot of my recipes, it is old school and from a time when grocery shops did not have so many choices. For this recipe, I used avocado oil and/or top quality sunflower oil, however any impartial tasting oil would work.
The identical goes for the vinegar. When this recipe originated, the alternatives in native shops have been cider vinegar or distilled. Through the years, I’ve used many several types of vinegar on this recipe. Although they’ve all been good, as a rule, I normally go for cider vinegar.
Pickling spice is made up of black pepper, coriander, dill, mustard seed, allspice, purple chili flakes and bay leaf.
Recipe: Pickled Shrimp from The Bayou
- 2 1/2 lbs. uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined.
- 1/2 cup celery and leaves
- 1/4 cup pickling spice
- 5 tsp salt divided
- 7-8 bay leaves
- 2-3 onions, chopped small or sliced skinny
- 1 cup salad oil
- 3/4 cup vinegar
- 2 1/2 tsp celery seed
- 2 1/2 Tbsp capers and caper juice
- A number of dashes of Tabasco sauce
- Elective: 2-3 lemons, halved lengthwise and sliced
- In a pot with about 2 quarts of water, add the celery, pickling spice, 3 1/2 tsp salt and bay leaves.
- Deliver the seasoned water to a boil, then add the shrimp. Prepare dinner till good and pink and “C” formed, about 10 minutes. The shrimp will form of curl up once they’re achieved. Drain in a colander.
- Alternate layers of shrimp and onion in a big fairly bowl. Add the lemon slices to the layers, if utilizing.
- Combine collectively the oil, vinegar, 1 1/2 tsp salt, celery seed, capers and Tabasco sauce. Pour over the shrimp and onions.
- Cowl and permit to marinate for a minimum of 24 hours.
Prepare dinner’s Notes
Precisely how lengthy to boil your shrimp has not been agreed upon thus far in my lifetime. It is determined by the dimensions of the shrimp, in addition to the way you grew up consuming them. My mom likes to boil her shrimp till they’re pink and curled, then she permits them to stay within the seasoned water a bit longer to take in the flavour.
Select “massive” or “jumbo” sized shrimp for this recipe. To save lots of time and problem, I decide up up already steamed shrimp from my native seafood store. It is a good time saver, and should you aren’t skilled with boiling shrimp otherwise you simply wish to eradicate that step, be at liberty to take action. Simply make certain to ask for peeled and deveined shrimp.
I’ve at all times served this appetizer in a giant, fairly bowl, generally doubling (or tripling) the recipe for a crowd. I’ve additionally seen it served in particular person dishes or Mason jars at events. No matter means you current it, one factor’s for certain — it is scrumptious.
Extra recipes from Bibi’s Southern kitchen: