Recipe: Isaac's Seafood Boil

Published on: July 12th, 2021

This recipe comes to us courtesy of Chef Isaac Toups of Toups Meatery, 845 N Carrollton Ave in Mid-City. Per the chef: "A shrimp or crab boil is one of the best communal gatherings we have. It’s messy, sure, but it’s perfect for summer time when you can just jump in the water or hose off after." You can use shrimp, crabs, crawfish, or a combination, and the accompanying cocktail sauce features an twist: it includes tequila blanco. Yields 8-10 servings.

3 gallons water
1-½ cups salt
1-½ cups sugar
3 cups white wine vinegar
24 bay leaves (truthfully, I’d just reach in and grab one big fistful of bay leaves, as many as I could get in one grab)
3 teaspoons cayenne
3 tablespoons celery salt
4 lbs large shrimp, head and shell still on (it’s ok if you can’t get head-on shrimp, but you want to make sure they’ve still got the shell on)
OR 4lbs of crabs
OR 4lbs of crawfish
OR Combo of the three
8 cups ice

METHOD: Put water, salt, sugar, vinegar, bay leaves, garlic, cayenne, and celery salt in a stock pot and bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Once the water is boiling, add shrimp* and cook uncovered for 2 ½ minutes. Remove shrimp from liquid (I use a spider or a strainer to remove shrimp) and place in a large non-reactive mixing bowl. Add four cups of the boiling (poaching) liquid and 8 cups of ice, and give it a good stir to disperse the ice throughout. I usually let it sit just for a minute and then remove the shrimp from the liquid, drain for a second, and throw them out on the table for people to eat. I want them still warm to eat (though you can chill them all the way down in the ice and place in the fridge if you prefer them cold). One note: even serving them warm, you have to shock them with the ice. If you don’t shock them right away, the shell with stick to the shrimp, and shell stuck to shrimp is a big faux pas where I grew up.

Cocktail Sauce
1 cup Heinz ketchup (yes, Heinz is a better ketchup, no they didn’t pay me to say this)
4 Tbsp hot prepared horseradish
1 tsp Worchestershire sauce
1 tsp hot sauce
1 tsp tequila blanco (this is white or silver tequila; it kind of wakes everything up in the sauce)
Zest and juice of 1 lemon

In a bowl, whisk all ingredients together until well combined. This will keep several days in the refrigerator, so feel free to make it ahead of time.

*If using a combination of seafood, adjust accordingly.

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