There’s just something special about seafood in the summertime. Whether you’ve been soaking up rays at the beach or relaxing poolside every day, try mixing up the normal dinner routine with some fresh summer seafood.
Photo: Fred Lopez | A special thank you to Bubba’s Crab and Seafood, Leesburg[divider_1px]
Mad about Boilin’
Into the boiling hot water with a splash tumbles an array of hard vegetables, marking the beginnings of a savory, hearty summer treat known in the South as a low-country boil.
Story: Shemir Wiles | Photos: Marc Rice
Made with new potatoes, corn, shrimp, crab, and sausage, this easy one-pot meal is perfect for feeding large crowds on the beach or by the lake after a day of fun in the sun.
“It’s just one of those meals you can do to feed a lot of people, and it’s something different from a barbecue,” says Gregg Dudley, a fourth-generation Weirsdale resident who enjoys making boils for his family and friends. “The best thing is it can cook while people are mingling and talking to each other. And it’s foolproof. Even if you can’t cook, you can cook a low-country boil.”
When Gregg first ventured into the world of low-country boil, he started with a handy recipe and a hankering for a meal fit to satisfy. However, over the years, he has ditched the recipe and tweaked it to his liking. “For color, I like to add green beans and carrots,” Gregg says. “And with the popularity of the show Duck Dynasty, people want crawfish added to the boils as a kind of a novelty. A lot of people want to try it.”
When it comes to making a low-country boil, Gregg explains that it’s not an exact science; it’s about boiling whatever you want with whatever seasoning you prefer. However, it’s best to start the boil off with any hard vegetables such as the red new potatoes and thick slices of onions. “When the vegetables are almost done, add the corn and sausage,” Gregg says. “Then when it’s right close to the end, dump in the crawfish or shrimp since it doesn’t need to cook that long. For seasoning, I like to use Old Bay, lemon, and lime.”
As for serving this gratifying dish, Gregg says people can serve it on a large, nice serving plate, but he likes to go for the tradition of dumping it on a table covered with thick newspaper.
“Anyone who seems to try a low-country boil is impressed with it and likes it,” he says. “It’s pretty easy and straightforward. And it’s fun to do.”[divider_1px]
AN AUTHENTIC BOIL RECIPE
YIELDS: 4 SERVINGS
- 5 pounds red new potatoes
- 5 quarts water
- 3 lemons, cut in half
- 6 large garlic cloves, minced
- 2 white onions, quartered and unpeeled
- 1 (3-ounce) bag of crab boil seasoning
- 4 tablespoons Old Bay seasoning
- 2 pounds cooked kielbasa sausage, cut into 1½-inch pieces
- 6 ears of fresh sweet corn, cut in half
- 4 pounds large fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined
- Bring the lemons, onions, garlic, Old Bay, crab boil seasoning, and five quarts of water to a rolling boil.
- Add potatoes and cover pot; cook five minutes.
- Add sausage and corn and return to a boil.
- Cook 10 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
- Add shrimp to stockpot; cook three to four minutes, or until shrimp turn pink.
- Serve with cocktail sauce.
Treasures from Florida’s Northwest Coast
Story: Mary Ann Desantis | Photos provided by Tracey Newton
An armada has filled the waters around Homosassa, Crystal River, Steinhatchee, Keaton Beach, Port St. Joe, and Cape San Blas on Florida’s northwest coast since July 1st when Florida’s bay scalloping season officially opened.
Vessels of all sizes, from kayaks to fishing boats and pontoons, are the first thing I remember seeing on my first scalloping trip a few years ago. I knew the small fan-shaped mollusks were a Florida delicacy, but I had no idea harvesting them could be so much fun. Donning snorkeling gear and diving into the sea grass near the mouth of the Homosassa River to catch my dinner was yet another way to experience “old” Florida. After all, Native Americans and early settlers enjoyed these bay scallops hundreds of years before Sunshine State chefs put them on menus.
As we cruised along the river and into the bay, another aspect of old Florida was apparent. Scalloping areas are often near remote, secluded places untouched by developers. Only the Gulf waters extending from the Pasco-Hernando County line to the west bank of the Mexico Beach Canal in Bay County are open to scallop harvesting. And if you do go scalloping, make sure you bring your harvest ashore in one of these designated areas; otherwise, you could be fined.
For those who don’t have access to a private boat, several charter boat companies in Homosassa and Crystal River offer scalloping adventures for both individuals and groups. Recreational harvesters need a Florida Saltwater Fishing License, even if scalloping from shore. Snorkeling equipment comes in handy, and many rental boats provide everything needed for an enjoyable day on the water. Be aware that reservations fill up fast with the rental companies.
There are limits to how many scallops you can harvest per trip. Each person is limited to two gallons of whole bay scallops in the shells, or one pint of scallop meat. I thought this was an abysmally small amount until my friends and I had to clean them. And it was definitely enough for my favorite dish: sautéed scallops tossed with angel hair pasta, fresh parsley, a clove of garlic, and Parmiagiano-Reggiano cheese.
If your palate is more adventurous, you may want to try this Scallop Slider recipe, courtesy of Tracey Newton at The Scallop Hunter.[divider_1px]
A FLORIDA RECIPE:
- 1 medium sweet onion, finely diced
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 pounds fresh bay scallops
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons bread crumbs
- 2 teaspoon Kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 egg, beaten
- ½ cup finely chopped fresh chives
- ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
- 1 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 12 Dinner Rolls, lightley toasted
- Cilantro Mayo, recipe follows
- In a small skillet, sauté onion in butter over medium heat until translucent. Cool.
- Place scallops in food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped, or chop by hand.
- Transfer to large bowl and add remaining ingredients, except vegetable oil. Add in the cooled onions. Cook’s note: Mixture should not be too loose. If necessary, add a bit more flour or another egg.
- Shape the mixture into small burgers, approximately two inches in diameter.
- Place on a waxed paper lined sheet tray, cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least one hour.
- Heat two tablespoons vegetable oil in a skillet over medium heat.
- Add scallop sliders and cook until browned and cooked through. About four to five minutes.
- Place on small soft dinner rolls and top with a bit of cilantro mayo. Serve warm or at room temperature.
- 4 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1 garlic clove, peeled
- 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- Kosher Salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Blend all ingredients in food processor except mayonnaise and salt and pepper. Process until cilantro is fine.
- Add mayonnaise and process just until blended.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Recipe courtesy of: scallophunter.com/scallop-recipes/[divider_1px]
But hurry to catch these little gems. Scalloping season ends Sept. 24th! For more information about scalloping, visit the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at myfwc.com/fishing/saltwater/recreational/bay-scallops/.