7 simple Southern shrimp recipes perfect for summertime

Chef Jeffrey Gardner
Shrimp Remoulade

If you followed Benjamin Buford “Bubba” Blue’s litany of shrimp preparations that he rattled off to Forrest Gump, you would not be surprised to learn that shrimp is the most-consumed seafood in the United States. Though sweet and mild on their own, shrimp can stand up to a variety of flavors, from subtle to bold.

While shrimp have their place throughout the year, I find that they have a natural fit in the warmer months. Now that it’s (basically) summertime, it’s a great time to share few ideas for how you can take advantage of the South’s bountiful and delicious shrimp in a few easy recipes.

A few suggestions first: if you live near a region where shrimp are caught regularly, try to get your hands on the fresh stuff. If not, look for frozen shrimp that are caught domestically. And remember, when cooking shrimp, do everything you can to not overcook them — usually only two to three minutes over the heat is necessary. Otherwise you run the risk of making them rubbery, instead of sweet and succulent.

Shrimp Remoulade

Our version of the classic New Orleans recipe for shrimp remoulade hits all the right notes when you’re looking for a cool and creamy seafood salad. Perfect as a heavy appetizer or a light supper, this dish couldn’t be more simple to prepare. Once your shrimp have been poached and chilled, all that’s needed is to make the remoulade sauce. Don’t be alarmed at the number of ingredients — it’s a very versatile sauce that’s delicious as a salad dressing, sandwich condiment or dipping sauce for nearly anything fried or grilled.

Shrimp And Farro Grain Bowl With Lime Vinaigrette

Shrimp And Farro Grain Bowl With Lime Vinaigrette

Grain bowls are all the rage these days, and with good reason: They give you the backbone of a good recipe and let you customize many of the ingredients to your liking. For this particular bowl, we’re pairing sweet shrimp with toothsome, earthy farro, then taking the flavors in a Latin direction. Grain bowls are all about contrasting textures and flavors, so we’re using jalapeño peppers to pack a fiery punch, then cooling it down with creamy avocado and crisp cucumber and radishes. A bright lime vinaigrette brings acidity to the party, making sure that otherwise mild ingredients like green beans have the chance to shine. 

Low Country Boil

Frogmore Stew (Lowcountry Boil)

A low country classic, Frogmore stew is basically a shrimp boil that takes its name from a fishing community near Beaufort, South Carolina. When preparing a Frogmore stew, you can opt for a tomato-based broth or seasoned boiling water. If you’re feeding a large crowd or hosting a party, I like option B because you have the option to customize the cooking liquid to your liking. The recipe calls simply for boiling salted water, but you can punch up the flavor by adding halved yellow onions, bay leaves, halved lemons, Old Bay and even beer. Success lies in adding the ingredients in stages, depending on how long each ingredient will need to cook. Start with the potatoes, then add the sausage to help flavor the liquid. Next, add the corn, then the shrimp during the final two to three minutes of cooking. Serve with lemons, cocktail sauce and plenty of cold beer.

Coastal Shrimp Spaghetti

Coastal Shrimp Spaghetti

For those nights when you’re looking to prepare a simple supper of a few fresh ingredients, I implore you to try out this shrimp spaghetti recipe. Chef Zeb Stevenson, formerly of Atlanta’s venerable Watershed restaurant, highlights local shrimp with bright and clean flavors, then tosses them with freshly cooked spaghetti. Working quickly and with good heat control is the key to this dish, as you’re building the sauce in the pan, starting with the shrimp. The tomatoes will break down and contribute acidity to the dish, while the butter will provide just enough richness to coat the pasta. If the final dish isn’t saucy enough for your liking (it should just barely coat the pasta), add a few tablespoons of pasta water while tossing in the hot spaghetti.

Pickled Shrimp Salad

Pickled Shrimp Salad

If I’m ever asked to contribute a dish for a potluck, pickled shrimp is one of my stalwart selections. The dish is best when prepared four to six hours in advance so the shrimp have a chance to absorb all the flavors. Using onion as your aromatic vegetable is most traditional, but thinly shaved fennel would also be wonderful. Make sure to stir the dish every hour to agitate the oil and vinegar combo. I would serve this with saltine crackers, grilled or toasted bread, or lettuce wraps.

Spicy Shrimp and Orzo Pasta Salad

Spicy Shrimp and Orzo Pasta Salad

Great as a healthy dinner or easy-to-pack lunch, this summery pasta salad packs big flavor, with Fresno chiles and fresh herbs countering the subtle salinity of the quick-cooking shrimp. Seedless English cucumber slices and sweet grape tomatoes bring additional texture and heft to the pasta salad. And, best of all, this dish can be made well in advance of dinner (or lunch). Unlike rotini, penne or farfalle — the most typical choices for pasta salad — orzo never becomes firm and gritty once cooled down. Just make sure to wait to add the basil close to serving time — you’ll end up with a much prettier dish.

Shrimp Creole With Louisiana Rice

Easy Shrimp Creole

If you prefer a heartier seafood dinner, consider gleaning inspiration from New Orleans and whipping up this one-dish shrimp Creole. This simple take on the classic dish employs a few shortcuts — canned tomatoes, pre-mixed Creole seasoning and a few dashes of Worcestershire — but its bold, spicy flavor is still in full force. If chopping a few veggies is about all you can handle on a weeknight, consider purchasing shrimp that’s already been peeled and deveined; that way, you’re only a sauté and a simmer away from dinner. 

Shrimp Grits