Oysters and Crabs and Shrimp Boil, Oh My!

National-Seafood-Month1I didn’t realize this until I got an e-mail from Pei Wei the other day, but October is National Seafood Month here in the United States. We all know the old adage about not eating shellfish (particularly oysters) in months without an “R,” which makes those of us who live in warmer climes (of the Northern Hemisphere) avoid local seafood in the summer months. I didn’t realize they had dedicated a whole “R” month to the consumption of seafood, though!

NCSeafoodFestApparently, they have and this is it. So, while we revel in the cooling temperatures, turning leaves and ripened apples autumn brings, those of us in the U.S. can also revel in lots of local celebrations of seafood. I will be heading to Morehead City, North Carolina, today with two of my besties (both named Susan), to indulge myself at the 28th annual North Carolina Seafood Festival (http://ncseafoodfestival.org/). We went together years ago and had a great day of it. Lots of foods to try, lots of vendors with lovely arts and crafts on sale, lots of entertainment and LOTS of people. I’m sure this year will be no different.

shrimpboilI am looking forward to all parts of this trip. Getting up early and meeting my friends, taking a 2-1/2-hour road trip to the coast, eating tons of seafood, looking for souvenirs and, most of all, spending quality time with friends I see far too seldom. Except for the mad battle for parking spaces, it should all make for a wonderful day. Just for fun, here is my favorite shrimp boil recipe, courtesy of the folks at Old Bayยฎ (http://oldbay.com/Recipes/Shrimp/Main-Course/The-Original-OLD-BAY-Shrimp-Boil-Shrimp-Fest.aspx). Don’t skimp on the Old Bay, y’all. It really makes every part of this 100 times more delicious!

The Original Old Bay Shrimp Boil Shrimp Fest


4 quarts water (16 cups)

1 can (12 ounces) beer (optional)

1/2 cup OLD BAYยฎ Seasoning

2 tablespoons salt

8 medium red potatoes, quartered

2 large onions, cut into wedges

2 pounds lean smoked sausage, cut into 2-inch pieces

8 ears fresh corn, shucked and halved crosswise

4 pounds unpeeled jumbo shrimp (21 to 25 count)



old-bay-seasoningBring water, beer, OLD BAY Seasoning and salt to boil in 12-quart stockpot on high heat. Add potatoes and onions. Cook 8 minutes. Add smoked sausage. Cook 5 minutes. Add corn. Cook 7 minutes. Stir in shrimp. Cook 4 minutes or just until shrimp turn pink.

Drain cooking liquid. Pour contents of pot into large serving bowl or platter. Or, mound on paper-covered table. Sprinkle with additional OLD BAY Seasoning, if desired.

Be sure to have plenty of napkins (or maybeย just a roll of paper towels) handy, as well as bowls for the shrimp shells, corn cobs, lemon rinds and whatever else isn’t eaten.

Tell me about your seafood favorites! I do not care for oysters, but do love shrimp, crab and fish in all forms. Have you ever been to a seafood festival? If so, what month of the year was it? I’m wondering if these happen in autumn in the Southern Hemisphere, as well!

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  • Jane says:

    Hello Caren,
    I love seafood, especially lobster, scallops, crab and shrimp. I also like salmon, Chilean sea bass and tilapia. I’ve never been to a food festival, but I would definitely enjoy myself if I ever went to one.

    • Caren Crane says:

      Jane, isn’t lobster just a decadent treat? I only have it about once a year, but it’s so wonderful!

      I seriously have a love affair with salmon. I’ve rarely had salmon anything that I didn’t absolutely fall in love with. I would eat it right now, at 6:42 AM. I think it would be just the thing with eggs and grits for breakfast. It’s my perfect food!

      Btw, the GR is NOT fond of seafood. He would try to wrestle any local lobsters or crabs, so don’t take him to any markets with you today! ๐Ÿ˜€

  • flchen1 says:

    Ooh, had no idea this was National Seafood Month–will have to celebrate (much to the youngest’s dismay–he’s not much of a fan ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) The rest of us enjoy it all, from sashimi to steamed, sauteed, to battered and deep-fried!

    • Caren Crane says:

      Fedora, my foodie sister! I have encountered very little seafood I didn’t love. I’m not fond of the texture of oysters and other mussels, but I love them in things.

      Honestly, I may have to just say I do like oysters, because friends and family keep making me try different things they’ve prepared with them and (with the notable exception of smoked oysters on crackers, my mother’s favorite), I usually enjoy them. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Helen says:


    I am sure we don’t celebrate anything like that over here in Oz ๐Ÿ™‚ I too love seafood but like you I don’t like oysters but love prawns (shrimp) and fish although I don’t cook it a lot and I have not been to any seafodd festivals

    Enjoy your day with your friends

    Have Fun

    • Caren Crane says:

      Helen, you just need to come over one year for the month of October. Between the seafood festival, the apple festivals, the pumpkin festivals and the NC State Fair, I could introduce you to a hitherto-unknown world of foodie goodness.

      And it must be an American thing to have all manner of festivals centered around food. I blame all our German ancestors. Oh, and I seriously want to go to Germany for Oktoberfest one year! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Deanna says:

    My seafood favorite would be a good seafood bisque. Lobster and / or crab being my favorites. When done well, these are delicious.

    • Caren Crane says:

      Oh, Deanna, I totally agree with you about seafood bisque. They have the most heavenly lobster bisque at Brio Tuscan Grille. It’s a chain-type Italian restaurant in our area, but they have seriously good food. The lobster bisque is amazing and totally worth the bajillion calories! ๐Ÿ˜€

  • Hey Caren! Hope you’re having a fun day!! I love getting together with friends…rumor has it a certain critique partner is coming to Texas the end of the month and we have some together time planned!! Woot!!!

    As for seafood, I love oyster, crab, shrimp, haddock, talapia, and Atlantic Salmon. Don’t care for the Pacific Salmon much, tends to be too oily for me.

    The Jazzman went to Alaska a year and a half ago and caught two big Haddocks. He brought back 20# of fish flash frozen and ready for cooking. We’ve got one package left in the freezer!

    • Cassondra says:

      Suz, getting to travel to Alaska, fish and try it fresh there–that’s one of the things I hope to do one day. *slurp*

    • Caren Crane says:

      Isn’t it great to have all that fish in the freezer waiting for you? I need to send the DH on another deep sea fishing trip!

  • Shannon says:

    I grew up inland, so the only fish/seafood I ever really got was inland salmon (blue blacks from Lake Coeur d’Alene) and perch caught in winter through ice fishing. I’ve gotten to like crab cake and shrimp/prawns now that I live on the east coast.

    In North Carolina, there are seafood buffets. I like those because I could pick and choose without seeming fussy.

    When I was in Spokane with Mom, a friend brought over flash frozen Alaskan salmon. Paired with fresh corn on the cob, tomato, and cucumbers, we had a delicious feast.

    • Cassondra says:

      Shannon I love salmon, and would really like to try it that fresh one day. Living in Kentucky, we don’t get any truly fresh seafood or fish (except catfish which is often local, and some freshwater fish that friends catch in ponds or lakes). Alaska and the northwestern corner of the continental US are both on my bucket list to visit at some point.

    • Caren Crane says:

      Alaskan salmon, what a treat! I grew up inland, too, but my dad was a great fisherman, so we had lots of inland fish. It’s all good. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • catslady says:

    I do enjoy seafood but not so much the raw stuff although my daughters are teaching me to like souchi . Living in PA it’s harder to get the good stuff. I remember as a child I had a great uncle that would go to Baltimore and bring back a bushel of crabs – oh that was so good and fun too!

    • Cassondra says:

      Catslady, I feel your pain. We don’t get fresh seafood down here, either. I do love sushi and there are some good places in our town, but it’s expensive because they have to fly it in every day.

    • Caren Crane says:

      Wow. Can you imagine how much a bushel of crabs would cost today? It’s astonishing how expensive seafood has become!

  • Deb says:

    I LOVE shrimp, deep-fat fried, mostly. The coconut shrimp at Red Lobster is good. HOWEVER (insert sad playing violins here), I discovered three years ago that I suddenly developed an allergy to shellfish. My throat closes up and makes it difficult for me to breathe. That makes me so sad!
    My mother makes oyster stew every NYD for my dad. I used to have a taste of it, but never liked oysters.
    I really don’t like fish much, but found that talapia, flounder, and orange roughy are good and don’t taste “fishy”. I also tried fried catfish for the first time 2 summers ago, and liked it, too.

    • Deb says:

      Feels good to be back in the Lair. I’ve been busy during the day trying to get things done on my prep period, and wiped out by the time I get home. Let’s just say this is going to be a chocolate and wine-filled year, ha!

      • Cassondra says:

        Deb, so glad to have you back! I had wondered if the start of the school year–or something else–might be keeping you away. People do have lives after all, but we worry when we don’t see our regular faces for a while.

        • Deb says:

          My kids this year are very needy and very immature. I am mentally drained every day and have been in bed a few times by 8:30. Plus, all the mandates the government and the new principal are throwing at us makes for hectic and worrisome days. 5 years until I meet the rule of 88…….
          I have missed everyone here, too.

    • Cassondra says:

      Deb, I used to like the “gentler” fish too. Now I’ve turned the exact opposite. I even put a comment on facebook that I’ve gotten such a taste for the stronger fish that I feel like mild fish is basically a foil for sauce. I’ve become that way with everything though. I like intensely flavored food, and I guess that goes for fish too.

      My husband technically has an allergy to shrimp, but he loves it, and a friend told us she’d done some studying and found out that for some people it’s not the shellfish themselves, but it’s the levels of mercury in the fish. We’ve found that fish from certain areas of the world don’t cause him any problems. But in other areas, he’ll break out if he eats the shrimp. He always carries Benadryl now just in case. We get mostly frozen here anyway, but gosh the fresh is so good!

    • Caren Crane says:

      Deb, I tried to post earlier but it never showed up. Thanks, public WiFi! ๐Ÿ˜›

      I think it’s terrible that your DH and daughter developed shellfish allergies. Hard on them and on you! But fish of all sorts are fabulous, so awesome that they can still indulge – and you with them!

      I second Cassondra’s welcome back! So glad to see you back with us. I’m sorry to hear it’s turning into a super high-maintenance year, both with the class and the bureaucracy involved in “meeting standards” these days. Horrors! Hopefully we can take your mind away for a time, though. It’s always great to hang with friends, even if it’s just online! (((hug)))

  • Jane has the GR again! Lucky girl. He won’t eat seafood, but he is relieved when others like it as it takes their minds off eating shhhh! C-H-I-C-K-E-N !

    This festival sounds like a blast, Caren. And my brother and SIL would LOVE it! They are huge fans of seafood and often take vacations based on seafood festivals here in the South.

    I, however, cannot enjoy as I am highly allergic to most seafood.

    I spent many years in Mississippi (and visiting Louisiana) where seafood gumbo is an art. Fortunately my friends always prepared a pot of chicken gumbo (don’t tell the GR !) for me and it was always delicious!

    • Cassondra says:

      Louisa, I would so love to get good at gumbo. Dianna Love’s husband, Karl makes a mean chicken gumbo, but I’ve never tried to make it. And the art of any seafood gumbo is lost on people in Kentucky. I want to get good at that–at all kinds of coastal cuisine, but the fish just aren’t available up here.

    • Caren Crane says:

      Louisa, hugs to you on the shellfish allergy. It really does cut out LOTS of things on the menu! I saw people at the festival today happily putting away BBQ sandwiches and racks of pork ribs and fried chicken and pizza and…well, just about everything. As we noted today at the festival, if you can fry it, they were selling it! ๐Ÿ™‚

      They also had something I personally LOVE (and avoid like the plague): chocolate-covered frozen cheesecake on a stick. OMG! It’s amazingly good and SOOOOO decadent! I wanted it, y’all. I wanted it BAD! But I sad no like a good girl and walked away. *sigh*

    • Caren Crane says:

      Oh, and I adore chicken gumbo! (Don’t tell the GR I said that!)

  • Cassondra says:

    Caren I experienced my first seafood boil like that earlier this year. It was NOT a month with an R in it, but since we are landlocked, it doesn’t matter. It’s alway the best frozen we can buy and it never gets any better than that. One reason I wish I lived nearer the coast is for the seafood. I love seafood. Having all that food piled up on a table was really fun though, and made a fabulous meal!

    • Caren Crane says:

      Cassondra, I think I stumbled upon this recipe by accident when looking for shrimp recipes one time. I love Old Bay so it was a big hit! And wit frozen seafood, you can indulge any time of year!

  • Becke says:

    Most of my diet comes from the ocean. However, my daughter and dh developed a shell fish allergy so we stick to fish.

    It’s hard to ruin a fillet of whitefish–broiled or baked. I like it baked w/ fresh spinach and cannellini beans.

  • Jo Robertson says:

    What a lovely trip with your friends, Caren. I hope you all have tons of fun and tons of seafood.

    I’m a salmon girl, I’m afraid. It’s about the only fish I really like although I have to say that your shrimp recipe sounds delicious.

    • Jo, I love salmon, too, though I tend to want it cooked a bit more than is popular.

    • Caren Crane says:

      Jo, I have a deep and abiding love of salmon. If I could eat it every day, I would. Happily. Today, I didn’t have any salmon, but I did have some grilled, marinated sashimi-grade tuna that was seared on the outside and pink on the inside. It was delicious and perfectly cooked! ๐Ÿ˜€

  • I’m so jealous!!!!!!!

    I’m afraid there will be no seafood festival in Ohio. Pig-roasts, maybe, but no oysters, shrimp, lobster, fish. I love it all. Love the oysters but they have to be fried. (grumble, grumble – they don’t even fry oysters right here. They bread them and lightly fry them so they aren’t chrunchy/chewy like the real thing). Love good crab cakes with lots of claw meat and not lots of filler (again – the Ohio version). Sigh…eat a ton for me, okay ๐Ÿ™‚

    Donna – a born and bred Marylander who lives in landlocked Ohio.

    • Donna, you’re ahead of me in being discriminating about oysters. They’re not one of my favorites. There’s a restaurant in Savannah, Vic’s on the River, that makes wonderful crab cakes.

    • Caren Crane says:

      Donna, I had a FABULOUS crabcake sandwich today at a place called MAMAW’S. It was a perfectly griddle-fried Maryland crabcake on a bun with special sauce and cole slaw. Yummy! It was so good, one of the Susans went back and got another before we left for the drive home. Delicious!

  • Caren, what a fun festival!

    I love shrimp, salmon, flounder, and crab. Used to like king mackerel, but you don’t see that on menus so much anymore, and I hear it’s one of the ones with higher mercury concentrations. :-/

    And I love fish and chips, which often means cod for the fish. Not sure I would like cod in other contexts.

    • Caren Crane says:

      Nancy, I love fish and chips! I have since my parents introduced us to Arthur Treacher’s when we were little. Malt vinegar makes my mouth water! ๐Ÿ™‚

      It’s a shame we have to worry about the mercury content, isn’t it? That and the overfishing have made some types of fish all but nonexistent on menus. It’s a real shame, too!