The Carolinas are famous for Southern hospitality and Lowcountry cuisine, and that means plenty of shrimp. While the region may be most associated with shrimp and grits, that’s certainly not the only way to consume this popular catch.
Here are 10 ways to eat shrimp and where to enjoy them.
Shrimp & Grits
What it is: This iconic Charleston dish, sometimes called “breakfast shrimp,” is made from buttery, cheesy grits topped with skillet-cooked shrimp. It’s so popular in South Carolina that it often makes appearances on breakfast and dinner menus.
Where to get it: Ask any Charleston resident where to get the best shrimp and grits, and you’ll probably hear a few different options, but one that consistently ranks at the top is Slightly North of Broad, where the cooks throw in sausage, country ham and fresh tomatoes for extra flavor.
Calabash Fried Shrimp
What it is: This classic shrimp preparation can be found at seafood restaurants all over the country, including the Carolinas. In North Carolina, you’ll find it Calabash-style, characterized by a light dusting of flour for a thinner crust than the usual beer-battered version.
Where to get it: If you want to try Calabash fried shrimp, you should get the real thing at the Calabash Seafood Hut in Calabash, N.C.
What it is: This classic shrimp dish is typically made from shelled shrimp served with a tangy, sometimes spicy tomato cocktail sauce. Simple and delicious.
Where to get it: While restaurant shrimp cocktail can often be disappointing, the folks at Hank’s Seafood in Charleston know how to do it right.
Sushi Roll with Shrimp
The Crazy Susan Roll — Photo courtesy of Takosushi
What it is: In Japanese cuisine, shrimp and sushi go hand in hand. You’ll find sushi rolls made with battered and fried shrimp tempura or with poached or steamed shrimp instead.
What it is: You’ll find plenty of burgers in the Carolinas, but they’re not always made from beef. The shrimp burger is a specialty in the small villages on the Carolina coast, made from a fried shrimp cake served on a bun with lettuce, tomato and tartar sauce.
Where to get it: If you want to try a shrimp burger, you should do so in Saint Helena Island, S.C. at the Shrimp Shack. This simple roadside takeout window makes their burgers from shrimp pulled from the boats just across the street, so you can bet it’s fresh.
What it is: Boiled shrimp epitomizes Lowcountry cuisine and has become a summer backyard tradition. Also known as Frogmore stew, a classic Lowcountry boil consists of shrimp, sausage, corn on the cob and potatoes boiled in a spicy broth, then dumped onto a newspaper-covered table. Dig in!
Where to get it: While boiled shrimp is best eaten in a backyard with a cold beer in hand, you can get a pretty darn good version at Fleet Landing in Charleston, S.C., where it’s prepared in a lager broth.
What it is: This classic shrimp preparation gets a spicy kick when served Carolina-style.
Where to get it: Come to the Crab Shack in Folly Beach anytime for a platter of fresh grilled shrimp, served with red potatoes and fresh vegetables. On Sundays, you can enjoy your shrimp on the outdoor patio next to the stocked Bloody Mary bar.
What it is: Since the Carolinas have their own type of rice – Carolina gold – it only makes sense that it would be paired with the ultimate shrimp comfort dish. Similar to a Louisiana-style jambalaya, Southern bog is a thick stew made with rice, bacon, tomatoes, onions, seasoning and shrimp.
Where to get it: Unfortunately, this one can be difficult to find in restaurants, so you’ll have to luck into a restaurant special, make it yourself or find a Carolina resident who’ll invite you over. You might be able to find it at Hominy Grill in Charleston, S.C.
What it is: Just because coconuts aren’t native to the Carolina coast, doesn’t mean you can’t find some of the best coconut shrimp in the country in the region. The coconut breading makes the shrimp crunchy and golden brown, perfect for dipping in a sweet pineapple sauce.
Where to get it: This shrimp dish – inspired by the flavors of the tropics – is best enjoyed by the beach. We recommend sampling some at Miller’s Waterfront Restaurant in Nags Head, N.C. They’re served alongside a sweet chili cucumber cream – and a fantastic view.
Shrimp Ceviche from Amen Street — Photo courtesy of Susan Lucas Hoffman
What it is: This Latin American dish is prepared by “cooking” fresh shrimp using only the acidity of lime or lemon juice. The shrimp is usually mixed with onions, tomatoes and cilantro and served with chips.
Where to get it: To get the best ceviche, you’ll have to go south of the border, but the dish served at Amen Street Fish & Raw Bar in Charleston, S.C. is a pretty good alternative.