There are few things easier than good Summer flavor in an old fashioned shrimp boil, but the crunch is the part I like best.
A fresh shrimp boiled just right and then plunge-chilled in an icewater bath crunches when you bite through it.
But don’t let it cool slowly. The delicate meat continues to cook in its own residual heat and the end result can be leathery. Have a gallon or more of icy cold water ready in the fridge when you make this.
Start with four or five quarts of cool water and bring it to a boil while you prepare about three pounds of shrimp. Leave the little tail on. It adds flavour to the boil and makes that nifty handle for dipping into cold cocktail sauce.
To the simmering water add 6 or 7 cloves of fresh garlic, chopped.
Then, 5 or 6 bay leaves
2 tablespoons coarse salt
1 tablespoon ground allspice
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
2 tablespoons black mustard seeds
2 teaspoons dill seeds
2 tablespoons of pickling spices
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
And have on hand, 2 lemons.
Cover the water and simmer it for 20 or 30 minutes to make an aromatic stock. Squeeze and drop the lemons in, then turn the boil up to a frenzy.
Is it frenzied? Good!
Now slide the shrimp in all at once, watch the boil subside, then slowly gather itself again.
When the boil begins to reappear, time three minutes then turn the heat off. The shrimp are done when you straighten one and it springs back to a curl.
Now work quickly.
Immediately sieve out the shrimp into a large bowl and dump in icy cold water to cover them. Let stand about a minute, strain the now-warm water off and again, dump icy cold water on them a second time.
Add some ice, if you want, so they will grow even colder, then pour through a sieve and from there on, presentation is easy.
Just don’t stand in the way. :-)