Peel and Eat Shrimp


Expatriation is a strange thing. You love your adopted home and fit in completely, relishing the unexpected details of everyday life. The longer you settle in, the more foreign your birth place becomes. Eventually you can hardly remember what it felt like to be ‘home’ because ‘home’ has come to mean something new.

But summer is a special case. This time of year is all about nostalgia—my memories are more weighted towards summer because I used to spend so much time anticipating and looking back on it throughout each school year. An English friend once told me that after 8 years in Australia, he felt like he hadn’t experienced a ‘real’ summer in nearly a decade. He was surprised to hear that after 7 years in England, I felt the same way.


The summers of my Atlanta childhood—the smell of cut grass and blooming honeysuckle, the sound of a screen door slamming, the drone of cicadas buzzing in the summer heat—all melted away into English elderflowers and unpredictable weather and a damp chill in my fingers and toes. Unquestionably lovely, but just not the same. So far this year, I’ve still been struggling to remember real Southern heat. I’m sorry to say that Maine in May has been…rather English.

However, this week I’m visiting my mother’s bachelorette pad in Southport, North Carolina: a few hours north of my hometown but still definitely Southern. I was giddy on the plane just thinking about the ridiculous humidity that would greet us on the other end of our flight.


Now that we are here, the sun is blazing. Mom’s balcony overlooks a swimming pool, which I have been doing my best to visit daily. I actually have something that in some circles may be considered a tan (almost). We’re within walking distance of the kind of salty waterfront bar that makes you feel like an extra in Weekend at Bernie’s. Wangling our way onto a friend’s boat for watermelon, beer, and good company, we’ve rocked in the wake of the yachts passing through the Inter Coastal Waterway (thanks to Tina and Chris!)

As for food…we’ve been indulging in some hometown favorites. Southern biscuits and giant waffles at the local breakfast joint, crab cakes and grilled tuna on the waterfront, and happy hour with G&Ts, tortilla chips, and guacamole with extra lime.


For dinner, we keep returning to shrimp. ‘Peel and Eat’ is both a set of instructions and a title for the first version, which can be a starter on its own, or a light main meal with crusty bread and salad. Hang on to the leftovers and make shrimp burgers the next day.


Peel and Eat Shrimp

  • 1 lemon, cut in half
  • 1/2 orange
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 T salt
  • 1/4 lb – 1/2 lb raw shrimp in the shell


Fill a large pot 3/4 full of water. Throw in the lemon and orange halves, cinnamon, and salt, and bring to a boil. Once it is boiling, take the pot off the heat, add the raw shrimp, and cover with a lid. Let it sit for 3 minutes, then drain and serve with cocktail sauce for dipping.

Diners peel the shrimp at the table as they eat, so keep plenty of napkins on hand and an empty bowl for discarded shells.


Shrimp Burgers

makes 4 burgers

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 small red onion, finely diced
  • 3 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 1 sweet bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 medium baked potato
  • 1 t grated lemon zest
  • handful roughly chopped parsley
  • 1/2 pound cooked shrimp, peeled, deveined, and chopped
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • salt and pepper


Heat half of the olive oil in a pan and gently fry the onions, pepper, and garlic until soft and translucent. Take off the heat and allow to cool. Scoop the cooked potato flesh out of the skin and mash with the back of a fork.

In a big bowl, combine all ingredients with the vegetable mixture and mashed potato. Mix thoroughly, then form into patties.

Heat the remaining olive oil on medium high heat. Fry the burgers for about 4 minutes per side, until the outside is crisp and caramelized and the inside is cooked through.

Serve with fresh tomatoes, lettuce, toast, mayo, and cocktail sauce.


Anonymous said...

Having been the lucky guest diner for both of these meals, I can say without doubt I've never had better! 'Though I love the shrimp burgers at Provisions in Holden Beach, NC, (and the remoulade type sauce that comes with them), Steph's were absolute perfection, topped with her cocktail sauce seasoned with a healthy dose of horse radish!
I usually just cook my peel & eat shrimp with lots of celery and salt, but hers, with the hint of cinnamon, orange, and lemon were to die for... and not overcooked, as mine usually are!

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