What visit to Charleston beach house is complete without taking part in a quintessential Lowcountry activity – eating shrimp?
A hearty meal of eating shrimp is one of those things that makes people happy and really rounds out the beach experience. When you come to the coast to stay at the coast, you can’t help but crave seafood in general and those cute curled crustaceans in particular.
Options for eating shrimp near the beach
Seems like you can’t throw a rock nowadays without hitting a restaurant that sells great seafood. Countless options exist near Charleston. If you’re on the Isle of Palms, you don’t even have to leave the island for a top-notch eating shrimp experience. Long Island Café, next to Harris-Teeter, has been around for decades and has some really delicious shrimp and other fruits of the sea. Other good choices are The Boathouse at Breach Inlet (great views), Acme Lowcountry Kitchen, Coda del Pesce, and Morgan Creek Grill (more great views at the marina).
This year’s shrimp season has been delayed this year due to the cold winter. Normally it would have begun about a month ago, around the time of the Blessing of the Fleet. Recreational shrimpers eagerly await the go-ahead to fill their coolers with some of the most delicious crustaceans known to man (or woman). Local catch is prized by restaurant chefs and Lowcountry home cooks alike.
According to this article in the Post & Courier, they are hoping to get the green light as soon as tomorrow. Let’s hope so, so we can get about eating shrimp soon. Read more about it here.
Most recreational shrimping is done from an open flat boat at night, since that’s when shrimp move in to feed in shallow, murky water. The most common technique involves setting poles to mark a spot, throwing bait balls made of fish meal mixed with mud or clay, waiting a short while for the word to get out, then casting nets into the area to catch the shrimp as they feed.
About a half million pounds of shrimp are caught each year by this baiting technique.
Other options to get seafood near your beach house
If catching them yourself is not your cup of tea, you can still experience shrimp season. Head to Shem Creek in Mount Pleasant (on Coleman Boulevard, along the way from Isle of Palms to Charleston). There you can see commercial shrimp trawlers and the dolphins that often follow them. Several seafood restaurants line the creek, including Red’s Ice House, where you can even dine al fresco on the deck with your canine friend.
Buy fresh caught shrimp at Wando Shrimp Company, a tucked-away favorite of locals, at 102 Haddrell Street. The shrimp is excellent, as are the prices.
While there, be sure to cross the creek to experience one of the best new parks in the area, the incredibly beautiful Shem Creek Park. Piers, boardwalks and docks stretch across the marsh and extend all the way towards Charleston harbor, offering great views previously only seen by boaters or birds. The park cost almost $9 million to develop and opened a few years back to rave reviews.
Again, you don’t even have to leave the IOP to purchase fresh seafood. Simmons Seafood is located just down the street from our beach homes, at 1400 Palm Boulevard. They are family owned and have been around since 1947. Harris-Teeter also has a perfectly respectable seafood market.
Why not prepare your fresh shrimp by trying out one of the Lowcountry’s classic signature dishes – Shrimp & Grits.
Here is chef Robert Stehling’s recipe from Hominy Grill, the popular restaurant on Rutledge Avenue in downtown Charleston. FYI, if you are heading downtown, Hominy Grill is a great breakfast/lunch/brunch option. They even serve breakfast all day. Portions are large and luscious. Think sweet potato waffles, pimento cheese biscuits, and pork belly grit bowls.
Shrimp & Grits recipe to make at home
Prepare the creamy grits “base” first. While they are simmering, you can prepare the shrimp topping.
4 c water
¾ t salt
1 T butter – Mix together and bring to boil in a heavy saucepan. Stir in:
1 c coarse white stone-ground grits
Reduce heat and simmer, covered, stirring frequently till thick, about 15 minutes.
½ c whole milk – Stir into the above. Simmer on low, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes.
½ c whole milk – Stir in and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, about 35 minutes till thick.
¼ t pepper
1 T butter – stir in and keep on the stove, warm, till ready to serve.
The Shrimp Part:
3 slices bacon – Fry till crisp. Remove from pan; pour off all but 1 T of fat.
1 lb. fresh shrimp – peeled & deveined.
2 T flour – Toss raw shrimp in flour till lightly coated.
2 T peanut oil – Add to bacon pan & heat to medium-high. Add shrimp and sauté till half-cooked.
1 ¼ cups sliced mushrooms – Add & toss into the above. When they begin to cook, add in:
1 large garlic clove, chopped – add, but don’t let it brown. Stir in crumbled bacon. Then quickly add in:
Tabasco to taste
2 t fresh lemon juice – Stir in quickly. Cook till shrimp are pink on both sides and mushrooms are golden brown. Add water to make a light gravy. Season with salt, then add:
½ c sliced green onions
Remove from heat. Spoon shrimp mixture over prepared grits. Serve immediately.
So enjoy eating shrimp in your Charleston beach house – local shrimp if possible. And remember, when you are looking for the best place to stay at the beach near Charleston, be sure to call EP.
your Isle of Palms vacation blogger