Shrimp Boil

Eating a shrimp boil is fun and messy, with each person shelling his or her own shrimp at the table. We've given this Southern tradition a double dose of cloves and bay leaves, adding the whole spices to the ground ones already in the Old Bay Seasoning. The result is a deliciously spicy mound of shrimp, potatoes, and onion.


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  • Servings: 4

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  • 4 quarts water
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1/2 lemon, cut into 4 wedges
  • 1/4 cup Old Bay Seasoning
  • 10 cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
  • 1 pound boiling potatoes (about 3), quartered
  • 1 onion, cut through the root end into 8 wedges
  • 1 1/2 pounds large shrimp

How to make this recipe

  1. In a large pot, bring the water, garlic, lemon, Old Bay Seasoning, cloves, bay leaves, salt, and Tabasco sauce to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

  2. Add the potatoes and onion and simmer until both are tender, about 15 minutes.

  3. Add the shrimp to the pot and bring back to a boil. Simmer until the shrimp are just done, about 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, put the shrimp, onion, and potatoes onto a large, deep platter or into individual shallow bowls. Ladle some of the liquid over all.


An unlikely combination that nevertheless tastes great with shellfish such as shrimp and crab, Old Bay Seasoning is a hot spice blend of celery salt, mustard, red pepper, black pepper, bay leaves, cloves, allspice, ginger, mace, cardamom, cinnamon, and paprika. It's sold in most supermarkets, but if you prefer to mix your own, start with the list above and combine them in amounts that suit your taste.

Suggested Pairing

The wine to best accompany this dish will be one that accommodates the intense flavors of the food rather than contributing distinctive flavors of its own. Verdicchio, an Italian white that's terrific with fish, will do just that.

Photo © Melanie Acevedo Published September 2012

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