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It’s the season to entertain and I’m on it with an easy appetizer you can have ready to serve all season long. It seems that hors d’oeuvres follow trends like anything else. Remember 7-Layer Bean Dip or Texas Caviar? It’s at every party. If you’re looking for quintessential cocktail party fare, look again at pickled shrimp. It may seem like a throw-back recipe, but I prefer to think of it as timeless.
I personally grew up on pickled foods, vegetables of every sort, meats and even pickled eggs. My gang loves all things pickled and shrimp is no exception. Pickled shrimp is more savory than sour like typical “pickled” foods. The oil and lemon juice are the fat and acid that make this work.
This classic cocktail staple was made popular in the south along the coast of the Carolinas taking advantage of their abundance of fresh shrimp from low country fishermen. This recipe dates back to the 1700’s. Pickled shrimp makes a delicious appetizer with a bit of mayo on toast. It’s also a great addition to your Bloody Mary garnish line-up. Best of all, it’s delicious right out of the jar. However you choose to serve it, you’ll be bringing a bit of culinary history to your cocktail party.
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon celery seeds
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 pounds small to medium (45 to 50 per pound) shrimp, cooked and peeled
- 1 medium onion, thinly sliced (about 1/2 cup)
- 20 bay leaves
- Sterilize a quart jar and set aside. Combine the salt, oil, lemon juice, mustard, celery seeds and garlic and set aside. Place about 15 shrimp in the jar, then put a layer of about 4 bay leaves. Put a layer of onion slices, then continue making similar layers until the jar is filled and all of the ingredients are used. You will have to pack the jar fairly tightly to get them to fit. You may have to push down on the ingredients a little.
- When the jar is full, stir the oil mixture well and pour slowly into the jar. Use a fork or a spatula to run down the sides to release air bubbles and to make sure the jar fills. If well packed, the jar will hold all of the ingredients.
- Put the lid on the jar and turn it over to make sure everything is coated with oil and that the air bubbles are out. Right the jar, open it again and push the ingredients down again so that they are covered with a film of oil.
- Refrigerate for at least 24 hours before serving. When you remove shrimp from the jar, be sure to use a clean fork, never a finger. Before returning the jar to the refrigerator, make sure the remaining ingredients are covered with a film of oil and they will last easily for 2 weeks.