Instilling a love of shellfish in your kids early in their lives introduces a healthy alternative to beef and pork. Less than 15 percent of the calories in shrimp, clams, scallops and crabs comes from fat, compared to 40 percent in meat. While preparing a shrimp boil may sound complicated, bringing the water to a boil is actually the most time-consuming part of the process.
Shrimp Size and Type
Because they retain more of their flavor, fresh, head-on unpeeled shrimp are the best kind for a shrimp boil. Keep in mind that squeamish kids -- and some adults -- might find the eyeballs and pointed snouts creepy. Shrimp are sold by the count -- the lower the count, the larger the shrimp. Buy at least 21-30 size -- that's the average number in a pound -- for your boil. Don't worry if you can't find head-on shrimp. Raw or frozen will also work. Only frozen shrimp requires any preparation time for this menu. Thaw them in the refrigerator before using them, or pour them into a colander set in a bowl of tepid water.
The recipe for a traditional Low Country shrimp boil originated in the coastal region of the Carolinas and Georgia. In addition to the shrimp, whole new potatoes, quartered lemons, a sausage like kielbasa or andouille and shucked corn on the cob are added to the seasoned water. Some recipes call for a whole onion to flavor to the broth. Tailor the seasoning to your family's tastes. Commercial shrimp and crab boil seasonings can be quite spicy. They also frequently have MSG and very high sodium levels. Cayenne, salt, ground black pepper and garlic powder are the basic ingredients.
Things You Need
A large pot that fits over a propane burner outdoors is the ideal way to prepare a shrimp boil for a crowd. Scale back the ingredients and use your biggest pot on the stove if you're cooking for the family. A big pot of water is heavy, so scooping the shrimp and vegetables out of the water with a strainer onto a platter is the easiest way to serve the food. An Asian noodle strainer with a long handle is a good investment if you plan to make shrimp or crawfish boils a permanent part of your repertoire.
A shrimp boil is an "eat with your hands" feast. If you used head-on shrimp in your boil, take a little time to show your family how to eat them. Twist the head off and pull the legs off the body. Use your thumbs to crack open and spread the shell where the legs were, and pull off the shell. This is a very healthy meal with little fat and low calories. Setting a dish of melted butter or other dressing on the table to dip the shrimp in adds flavor, but it also adds fat and calories. Round out your meal with a cool green salad topped with fresh vegetables and a creamy dressing.