Sunday Supper...Southern Pickled Shrimp

I'm so excited to have help for Sunday Supper tonight.  Sam Hoffer from My Carolina Kitchen has graciously accepted our offer to share her charm and culinary  talents with all of us.


Sam is a retired executive turned writer & food columist. She currently writes a food column, “From My Carolina Kitchen,” for her local newspaper.

She has entered three recipe contests and was a winner in each: Won the state of Mississippi's Chicken Contest in 1993 and participated in the 40th annual National Chicken Contest, one of the "big three" national competitions. It is the oldest contest of its kind. Her recipe for Goat Cheese Stuffed Chicken Rolls is in The Chicken Cookbook, 1993, a Dell publication. She wrote a food column for The Abaconian newspaper when she and  her husband Meakin  lived in the "Out-Islands" of the northern Bahamas in Abaco on the tiny tropical island of Lubbers Quarters. She is a member of North Carolina Writers Network.

 Sam has perfected a fabulous old Southern recipe  that she will delightfully explain and show with her gorgeous photography.  All I have to do is set the table... 

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Pickled shrimp are a staple at cocktail parties throughout the South, especially in the Outer Banks and Low Country of the Carolinas and Georgia. During the Masters Golf Tournament, no hostess in Augusta would throw a party without a big bowl of the spicy concoction to offer her guests. Perhaps it’s because the Carolina and Georgia coastlines produce some of the best shrimp in the world. After growing up eating pink Gulf coast shrimp, I might beg to differ about who’s shrimp is best, but I certainly can’t argue about how popular pickled shrimp is in the south.

In addition to being a very pretty dish, it’s also healthy and the bright fresh flavors sparkle on your tongue. I find that it is a refreshing alternative to the old standard boiled shrimp and red horseradish flavored sauce. There are probably as many versions of pickled shrimp as there are cooks in Carolina. Most of the recipes I’ve tried rely on some kind of vinegar, primarily cider, but sometimes white wine vinegar, along with a little fresh lemon juice is used. I’ve found that I prefer all fresh lemon juice because it produces a fresher tasting marinade and doesn’t leave that vinegar after-taste/tang that I don’t find appealing.

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I know someone must be thinking, “I’ll just buy cooked shrimp from the market, marinate it, and save the time and trouble of cooking the shrimp myself.” Perish that thought - and I’ll tell you why. It will probably taste “pretty good,” but the pre-cooked shrimp will not absorb all of the wonderful spicy briny flavors that the dish really needs to be classified as “great.”

Here’s an example that you’ll relate to since I know you are interested in decorating or you wouldn’t be reading this blog. We’ve been remodeling and redecorating homes all of our married life. Many years ago when we lived in Houston we stumbled upon a jewel of a little house for sale off of Memorial Drive inside of Voss Road – a very classy place if you’re familiar with the area. Trouble was the house and grounds needed a lot of updating, remodeling, and refreshing. To make a long story short, we bought the house and began to revamp and redecorate. In the living room, bookcases flanked the gracious marble fireplace and I had done what I considered to be a “pretty good” job without the help of a professional decorator of placing books and objects on the shelves. When the furniture we had re-upholstered was scheduled to arrive, I asked our decorator to stop by and help me arrange the room. While she was there doing her magic, she rearranged a few things here and there on the bookshelves and before my very eyes her special touches made the bookcases look like they came out of House Beautiful. In other words “great.” Lesson: Don’t cut corners. Go the course. Make the effort, make it right. This is the difference between using store bought, pre-cooked (most likely over-cooked) shrimp and taking the time to properly cook and marinate your own. Don’t settle for “pretty good” when “great” is within your reach.

So, here’s my version of properly cooked southern pickled shrimp.

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Southern Pickled Shrimp ( Adapted from Coastal Living )and tweaked from other recipes I’ve liked – makes 8 to 10 appetizer servings


1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns, preferably Tellicherry

1 teaspoon whole pink peppercorns, optional but very pretty

2 teaspoons of your choice - fennel seeds, black mustard seeds, or anise seeds

1 teaspoon celery seeds

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon kosher salt

¾ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

½ cup good extra-virgin olive oil

6 fresh thyme sprigs

6 – 8 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced

1/3 cup (or more) small capers, drained well

4 bay leaves

Dash of red pepper flakes if you like it spicy

1 lemon, sliced

2 pounds fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined

Combine first 7 ingredients of the marinade in a large bowl, stirring until the sugar and salt dissolve. Stir in the olive oil and remaining marinade ingredients. Set aside while you cook the shrimp. Place peeled and deveined shrimp in a pot of salted water to cover and bring to boil on the stove over high heat. As soon as the shrimp come to a boil, check to see if they are done. They will turn pink and curl a bit. It will take 2 to 5 minutes, depending on the size of the shrimp. Taking care not to overcook the shrimp, drain immediately, and add the hot shrimp to the seasonings bowl. By placing the shrimp in the bowl of marinade while they are still hot, it allows the seasonings to penetrate the shrimp. Allow the shrimp mixture to come to room temperature, then cover tightly and marinate overnight in the refrigerator.

When ready to serve, transfer shrimp and marinade to a glass serving compote or individual appetizer bowls. Serve slightly chilled. The pickled shrimp can be stored 3 to 5 days in the refrigerator, stirring occasionally. The flavors will get stronger and more pronounced with time.

Serving suggestions: Pickled shrimp are normally served as an appetizer with toothpicks as picker-uppers or, if you want to be really southern, accompany with buttery Ritz crackers. For a light lunch or dinner, serve the pickled shrimp over baby greens as a salad  with a crusty French baguette and a cool glass of crisp white wine.

The table is all set...

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The wine is chilled and the bread is out of the oven...


We're really thankful for our new friend Sam...You will want to pay her a visit and sign up to won't want to miss posts like this one she shared last week for classic French Creme Brule.  Click here.

It's your turn.  Let's talk!

Images via, Sam Hoffer, My Carolina Kitchen, Veranda, Traditional Home and This is Glamorous