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Fourth of July on the Gulf of Mexico
Jul
02
2014

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gulf_shrimp (1 of 1)This week I’m down in Seagrove Beach, Florida for a book signing and for a Fourth of July vacation, after signings and cooking demonstrations in Asheville, NC, and Birmingham, AL.

I’ve been coming to the same house down here on the Panhandle (affectionately otherwise know as L.A., or Lower Alabama), since I was born. It has changed a lot (it’s no secret anymore), but I always love being back here for a feeling of nostalgia I get nowhere else.

Several of the recipes in The New Southern Table are inspired by summers here, like these Shrimp and Corn Fritters. They’re like hushpuppies laced with little bites of shrimp and vegetables, and take me back (in an updated way) to the dive seafood spots we relied on before the throngs of vacationers arrived.

Whether you have access to the stunningly clear, lobster-like Apalachicola shrimp we get down here (pictured above, bought straight off the boat), or whatever your favorite variety, these fritters are an irresistible Southern snack to throw together for a hungry crowd as the holiday meals and gatherings are coming together. It’s a unique shrimp dish for your repertoire.

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Spicy Shrimp and Corn Fritters

1⁄4 cup (38 g) finely diced red bell pepper
2 green onions, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons (10 ml) olive oil
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
Vegetable, peanut, or canola oil, for frying
1 cup (140 g) cornmeal
1 cup (120 g) all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons (42 g) baking powder
1 tablespoon (13 g) sugar
1 teaspoon (6 g) fine sea salt
1⁄2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
1⁄2 cup (120 ml) buttermilk
1 egg
1⁄2 pound (227 g) raw shrimp, peeled, deveined and diced
1 cup (150 g) cooked sweet corn (from approximately 2 ears)

 In a small sauté pan over medium heat, cook the diced red bell pepper and minced green onions in the olive oil until they are soft and fragrant, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate, stir in the lemon zest, and cool.

 Add enough cooking oil to a heavy pot to come to a depth of 2 inches (5 cm), no more than halfway up the sides of the pan, and heat to 350°F (180°C). Combine the cornmeal, all-purpose flour, baking powder, sugar, sea salt, and cayenne pepper in a large bowl, and mix well.

 In another bowl, whisk the buttermilk and the egg together. Add the dry ingredients to this mixture, and stir witha wooden spoon until combined. Fold in the sautéed red bell pepper and green onion mixture, and then the shrimp and the corn into the batter. Do not over mix or the batter will not be as light.

 When the oil is up to temperature, drop the dough by rounded teaspoons into the hot oil. Fry them until puffed up and golden brown, turning once or twice, about 8 minutes. The fritters should be moist and cakelike on the inside and the shrimp cooked through.

 Remove the fritters from the oil with slotted spoon, drain on paper towels, and serve immediately.

 yield: 3 dozen fritters