The Best Summer Seafood Boil
A while back, one of my sisters and I visited my husband in his office (I think we were bored at home), and we came with no food. He lucky to have quite the vast selection of good restaurants close to his office building, all within walking distance, so my sister and I decided to take a walk around while he was at a meeting. We stumbled on the DC wharf, and that was where I had my first proper seafood boil.
We ordered a crab, shrimp and craw fish boil with old bay seasoning and corn on the side. The merchants sold the seafood selected from the fresh catch of the day steamed and in a giant brown paper shopping bag. Other patrons sat on picnic bench-tables with newspapers spread, their seafood dumped on the newspaper while happily devouring their freshly steamed crabs. Luckily, my husbands office is just a stone’s throw away from the wharf, so I didn’t have to wait long to break into the seafood haul I was hungry for. While hubby was still at the meeting, my sister and I sat behind his desk on the floor so we were not spotted by passers by (we were about to get very unprofessional), and tore into the bag of freshly steamed and seasoned seafood and corn. Our setup was similar to the one we had just seen at the wharf restaurant, only we were sitting on the floor, and we had a brown bag as a table instead of newspaper. I knew we would need an extra paper bag to hold the shells, but for some reason I had forgotten to get one. So I quickly rushed outside the building to grab one from the free pile they had sitting there. By the time I returned, my husband had emerged from his meeting, and was ready to join us on the floor.
While this sounds like much ado about just some steamed seafood, the buildup matters. Once we sat on the floor and pounced on the seafood boil, it was love at first taste. The meal took us about thirty minutes, but we left no stone or should I say shell, unturned. It was a delicious experience, and it was there that I learned that fresh seafood was all it took to elevate simple seasoning. The boil didn’t need anything extra special or fancy to taste good, and keep us eating.
So all you need to have the perfect seafood boil is just fresh seafood. If you do not have access to fresh seafood, the seasoning I used in this recipe adds some freshness and lifts the seafood so it comes close to fresh.
Feel free to use your own selection of shell fish based on what is available to you. But have these few rules in mind.
- Be careful when using shrimp, it has the tendency to be rubbery when it is cooked for too long. If you are using different types of shell fish, add the shrimp last so they so not overcook. Shrimp should not cook for more than five minutes.
- Use a wet marinade. I know I just raved about the delicious seafood boil I had that was seasoned simply with old bay, but there is more. I have discovered that if cooking seafood that is not very fresh aka frozen, a wet marinade brings it more to life than a dry marinade. Dry marinades work best this fresh of the boat seafood. When I say wet marinade, I am referring to marinade that includes blended fresh herbs.
- Be sure to use a large pot. While your portions may be smaller than mine, always go with a pot larger than you think you may need to give room for the shellfish.
- Ensure that the pot used to cook your seafood boil has a nice fitting lid to allow the more delicate seafood that may not necessarily come in contact with the water to steam efficiently.
- 2.5 lbs blue crabs
- 1 lbs craw fish
- 1 lbs giant prawns
- 4 red skin potatoes
- 4 white potatoes
- 6 corn ears cut in half
- 4 lemons
- 3 shallots/ 1 small red onion
- 2 cups cilantro
- 1 scotch bonnet/ habanero pepper
- 3 tsp bullion
- To prep the marinade, simply blend the cilantro, shallots, pepper, and bullion with one cup of water and set aside.
- In a large pot with salted water, boil the potatoes until it is about half cooked. The time it takes depends on the size of your potatoes. With the size of potatoes I used it took 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, add the crabs, half of the marinade and boil for another 5 minutes on high heat with the pot covered.
- After the crabs have cooked for 5 minutes, add in the corn, craw fish, prawns and the rest of the marinade and cook for 15 minutes still on high heat with the pot covered.
- While the seafood is boiling on the stove, cut the lemons in half and broil under a hot grill for 5 minutes
- Serve the seafood hot with the the grilled lemons on the side.