How to boil shrimp like a New Orleans native

This boiled shrimp recipe is from my Pensacola, Fla., brother-in-law, Tommy Ratchford, and he knows a few things about cooking shrimp. Bar none, this is the best result I have ever tasted.

Patsy R. Brumfield The Southfacin' Cook

Patsy R. Brumfield
The Southfacin’ Cook

It’s just right: firm but not overcooked, and very flavorful like shrimp, not a bunch of overt spices. Don’t forget the secret ingredient in the boil: apple cider vinegar. It makes the shrimp easier to peel.

Tommy insists you shouldn’t cook more than 2 pounds of shrimp at a time. If you have more, just start over. I suppose this prevents you from under-cooking some and over-cooking others.

I’ve never tasted a batch from Tommy that wasn’t great. Enjoy!

Header image via flickr user mymoustache and used in accordance with a Creative Commons license.

Boiled shrimp

  • Servings: plan for 1 lb of shrimp per person
  • Time: 45 mins
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

EQUIPMENT:

how to boil shrimp like a New Orleans native (photo via Patsy R. Brumfield/The Southfacin' Cook)

how to boil shrimp like a New Orleans native (photo via Patsy R. Brumfield/The Southfacin’ Cook)

  • Large, tall cooking pot with lid (this is that big gumbo pot you should have bought a while back)
  • Measuring equipment, ruler
  • Long wooden spoon
  • Tongs
  • Paring knife

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 pounds raw, headless shrimp
  • 2-3 lemons
  • 1 bag Zatarain’s shrimp/crab boil
  • 3-4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1-2 teaspoons salt

LET’S GET STARTED

Prepare your water to cook in. Add enough water to your pot to cover your shrimp by about 2 inches. To do this, put your cold shrimp in the pot, pour on the water and measure it. Then pour out the water, put your shrimp into a bowl and re-fill the pot.

Into your water pot, squeeze the juice of 2-3 lemons, then drop what’s left of the lemons in too.

Add your bag of shrimp/crab boil, salt and vinegar. (The vinegar is the secret ingredient. It makes the shrimp easier to peel.)

how to boil shrimp like a New Orleans native (photo via Patsy R. Brumfield/The Southfacin' Cook)

how to boil shrimp like a New Orleans native (photo via Patsy R. Brumfield/The Southfacin’ Cook)

Put your shrimp-boil water pot onto the heat and bring it to a boil. (My brother-in-law likes to boil his shrimp out on his grill, which has a gas eye. It also doesn’t stink up the house.)

how to boil shrimp like a New Orleans native (photo via Patsy R. Brumfield/The Southfacin' Cook)

how to boil shrimp like a New Orleans native (photo via Patsy R. Brumfield/The Southfacin’ Cook)

When the water is boiling vigorously, add your 2 pounds of headless shrimp.

how to boil shrimp like a New Orleans native (photo via Patsy R. Brumfield/The Southfacin' Cook)

how to boil shrimp like a New Orleans native (photo via Patsy R. Brumfield/The Southfacin’ Cook)

When the water returns to a vigorous boil, your shrimp are done!!!!

how to boil shrimp like a New Orleans native (photo via Patsy R. Brumfield/The Southfacin' Cook)

how to boil shrimp like a New Orleans native (photo via Patsy R. Brumfield/The Southfacin’ Cook)

how to boil shrimp like a New Orleans native (photo via Patsy R. Brumfield/The Southfacin' Cook)

how to boil shrimp like a New Orleans native (photo via Patsy R. Brumfield/The Southfacin’ Cook)

Remove shrimp immediately into colander or strainer in the sink and cover with ice immediately. Do not leave shrimp in hot water. They don’t soak up flavor; they just get tough.

how to boil shrimp like a New Orleans native (photo via Patsy R. Brumfield/The Southfacin' Cook)

how to boil shrimp like a New Orleans native (photo via Patsy R. Brumfield/The Southfacin’ Cook)

If you want to cook more shrimp, use the same flavored water. Don’t pour it out. Just use a strainer to remove the shrimp and start over with another 2 pounds, until all are cooked.

Come back to NewinNOLA.com every week for “Southfacin’ Cook,” where Patsy explains the basics to Southern cooking and eating. Contact her with suggestions, questions or requests at patsy.brumfield@gmail.com.

Click here for previous recipes from Patsy. And here is our complete list of recipes.


Creative Commons License
This work by Patsy R. Brumfield is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

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6 thoughts on “How to boil shrimp like a New Orleans native

  1. Pingback: Southfacin’ Cook: How to Make Crabmeat West Indies Salad | PorchScene

  2. Bayou social says:

    FYI – shrimp, like crawfish, do soak up flavor the longer they soak. Yes, easy to overcook, so DO NOT bring back to boil, remove from heat, let soak 15-20 min, also, add cayenne for an extra kick.

  3. L says:

    Bayou Social is correct. You can easily overcook with this method. Add more water and get it to a boil. If you have enough stored heat in a large volume of water the temperature won’t drop so much and the shrimp will be done fast. It works sort of the same way as pasta. Also this depends on the size of the shrimp. Bigger the shrimp the more volume of water you want.

  4. No New Orleans native I know cooks shrimp this way. First, only 2 Lbs at a time? And headless? Apple Cider Vinegar to peel easier? Cooking them for the correct amount of time helps them peel easier. Take them out of the water an not let them soak? Wow! Never heard this one before. Don’t know any New Orleanian who would consider the smell of boiling seafood as stinking up the house!

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