Entertaining with the Chalreston Silver Lady
This recipe is one I remember having at nearly every social event in growing up in Charleston. It is still in use at the homes of my family and friends.
I assumed growing up that it was called ‘East Bay Shrimp’ as we were on East Bay Street but in fact, I think it may have been because so many Bay leaves are used as the flavor base for these chilled treats.
The Mt. Pleasant side of my family, the Missroons (their home is now Historic Charleston Headquarters on East Bay Street) had a number of shrimp boats.
They taught me to tie shrimp nets and how to throw them when we were shrimping from shore. Any time we went out into the harbor, we came back with many different sea shells and other things from the ocean. It was rare that we came back empty handed but even if we did, we had spent a day on the water; away from the racket of a tourist-filled town.
We would drive back from Mt. Pleasant to downtown with the back of the car filled with buckets of shrimp. My exasperated grandmother would often lament, ‘Now I have to do something will all these shrimp!’
The idea of pickling them and setting them aside was appealing to her. She canned all summer long. Hot jars of preserved foods were on the kitchen table nearly every week. The idea of a ready made meal or snack waiting in the refrigerator was also appealing to her.
I can still see the jars of shrimp lined up in the refrigerator in glass gallon size jars; ready for company. You can make it up to a full day ahead or even a day or so longer.
This is a life saver when the weather is burning hot and/or people drop in unexpectedly. You can add or take away ingredients to your hearts content but listed below is the basic recipe and basic marinade.
First of all, make sure whatever jars you are using are sterilized. You will not be cooking the shrimp in the jars or preserving them but you want to be clean as possible.
Set the jars aside to cool. Make sure you have new rings and seals or that the lids you are using are clean as well.
Remember when orange juice came in a big glass jar with a screw lid? It is the perfect size for this recipe.
Begin by boiling till done 2 pounds of large shrimp deveined, head’s off, tails on.
Set aside to cool.
Cut 3 large white onions into thin rings.
Cut 1 carrot into thin rings.
Cut 1 stalk of celery into thin slices.
30 bay leaves.
Alternate layers of cooked and cooled shrimp, bay leaves and vegetables in whatever jars you are using.
Now, make this marinade.
1 cup of oil that you like the flavor
1/2 cup of wine vinegar
1 tbsp salt
2 tbsp pepper
1/2 cup pickling spices (or peppercorns if this is what you have)
1 tbsp hot sauce
4 tbsp capers
lace this in a container with a lid and shake it for a few minutes, pour over the shrimp, seal your jar and refrigerate.
Now is a chance to use your crystal champagne glasses, oyster forks, any odds and ends from your family’s past as serving dishes. I have a huge mother of pearl sea shell dish from the 1930s that was my grandmothers. It is worn and chipped but I still use it to serve these shrimp.
I have seen them served in canning jars with a long handled silver piccalilly fork that was made in the 1890s. The shrimp can be served swimming in the marinade or speared on decorative picks and arranged on a platter. Make sure to have plenty lemon slices and dill to use as a garnish.
A cousin makes a great martini by using one of these pickled shrimp instead of an olive. Try it. You will like it!
Add a little fun this summer with this recipe from East Bay Street in Charleston.