Few dishes are as subtle as shrimp – easy to catch, easy to clean, and they can be cooked very fast. They are forgiving of most other ingredients, and absorb other flavors easily. Early in my newspaper career, I spent a day on a working shrimp boat out of Beaufort, SC to write a slice-of-life feature story. We left before dawn on a Sunday, listened to a black evangelical church service with Reverend Ike on the radio, rolling across the waves in the darkness. We ate boiled shrimp for breakfast. We had boiled shrimp for lunch, too.
I remember writing about “shrimpers in the Stream,” impressed that the captain and his silent mate lived in the moment, trailed always by pin-wheeling gulls and dolphins in their spare wooden boat, month after month. Whenever the test nets showed promise, the two would hoist the big nets in and dump the brown and white shrimp on the rear deck, the sparkling catch like sudden money in their pockets. Then they would wind up the cable, swing the outriggers, and again the nets would fall away, away… a comforting monotony repeated the day long.
In the afternoon, when we were still about a half-mile from port and a half-mile from land on a forgiving tide, the mate jumped over the side and began to swim for shore. Puzzled, I asked the captain why. The captain said the mate did that most days, because we were going past his house and he could get home sooner that way.
When you live in the moment, perhaps days that go on forever can seem a little bit on the longish side.
GULF PANHANDLE SHRIMP
2 pounds clean raw shrimp
1 stick butter
2 cups mushrooms (fresh or canned)
1/3 cup diced onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup sour cream
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon chopped parsley, for garnish
Melt butter in a large saucepan and saute the shrimp, mushrooms, garlic and onion for about 5 minutes over medium-high heat, until the shrimp turn a definite orange-pink. Stir in the flour, mixing it well. Stir in the liquids and blend until the sauce thickens a bit, bringing to a slow simmer. Stir in the sour cream and heat, bringing again to a slow simmer but do not boil. Serve in a rice ring embellished on top with the parsley. Serves 4-6 people.
SouthernAirs developed some of these recipes, aiming as always for authenticity. Others are on loan from cited friends and relatives, or from authoritative sources with permission.