Marinated Shrimp with Cocktail Sauce and Old Bay Crackers

My daughter called me with a crisis.  It rained where she lives in Oakland California (it hardly ever rains there) and ants, which decided to move in to avoid the wet weather, had invaded her. Now when I say “invasion” I’m talking about a swath of ants, eight inches wide, that marched under the front door across the carpet, up a wall and then continued on through the kitchen to the back door where they exited. It would have been fine if they had all exited but some curious ants decided to stay and take a look around! She called and said, “The landlord won’t answer the phone, what should I do?” I asked if she had left a message yet and she replied, “No.” 

This is what I told her to do. “Lindsey, call and leave this message.” “Hello, this is Lindsey from 313 B. I’m having a problem. Oh my goodness, would you look at that! WOW, I’ve never seen anything this bad!!” Then hang up. Don’t say what the problem is and I guarantee he will call you!  In about ten minutes Lindsey called me and said, “Mom you were right. The landlord called right back. He couldn’t stand not knowing what the problem was!” 

I’m the same way; I can’t stand not knowing. Christmas about kills me. Not knowing what’s in all those packages under the tree. It’s sheer torture. My mom is worse. I can’t take any presents to her house until Christmas day or she will open every one! 

If you want to impress your friends and co-workers with all your savvy culinary skills at parties this year, I’ve been working on a recipe that will wow them. Your appetizer will be the talk of the evening! The bonus is you can make it in advance. It will keep for 2 days in the refrigerator. If your house is like mine, you’ll want to make sure to the shrimp actually make it to the party. I suggest putting a note on the bowl that says. “Not for you!”

Marinated Shrimp with Cocktail Sauce and Old Bay Crackers – 8 servings

2 pounds large raw shrimp (Look for the already peeled and tails removed raw shrimp. It will save time)
2 tablespoons pickling spice
1 stalk celery including leafy tops, sliced
2 tablespoons kosher salt
Shrimp marinade (recipe follows)
Purchased cocktail sauce
Old Bay Crackers (recipe follows)

Make marinade first (recipe below) and place in refrigerator to cool to room temperature while cooking shrimp. 

Fill a stockpot filled halfway up the side with water. Add pickling spice, celery, and kosher salt. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. After 10 minutes bring water back to a boil then add shrimp. Cook shrimp 2 minutes (unless you want rubbery shrimp) then quickly pour water and shrimp into a large strainer. Rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain. Remove celery. Pour into a glass bowl. Set aside.

Shrimp Marinade

1/2 cup canola oil
3/4 cup white vinegar
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 and 1/2 teaspoons celery seeds
1/2 of a 3 ounce jar of capers with juice (fill jar back up with white vinegar for next time) 
1/8 teaspoon red Tabasco hot sauce
1/2 cup thinly sliced Vidalia onions
3 bay leaves, crumbled up
1 thinly sliced lemon

In a sauce pan, add oil, white vinegar, kosher salt, celery seeds, capers with juice, hot sauce, onions, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer then cook 5 minutes. Remove from heat and place in refrigerator to cool to room temperature. 

After marinade has cooled, add cooked shrimp and lemon slices. Stir to coat with marinade. Refrigerate at least 24 hours before serving (it takes 24 hours for the flavor to fully develop). Will keep 2 days in refrigerator. Stir occasionally. To serve: Drain shrimp and pour into a glass bowl. Artfully arrange shrimp and lemons slices. Makes 2 pounds shrimp. Serve with your favorite cocktail sauce and Old Bay Crackers. 

Old Bay Crackers

1- (11 ounce) box mini saltine crackers
1/4  melted unsalted butter
1-2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line a rimmed baking dish with parchment paper. Melt butter in microwave. Add 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning. Pour saltines in a large bowl. Pour Old Bay butter over saltines. Stir. Pour into prepared pan in one layer. Taste crackers. If desired, lightly sprinkle with more Old Bay seasoning.  Bake 350ºF for 5 minutes.  Enjoy, Friends!

Published in The News and Neighbor on December 22, 2021.

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