The Wild South

Hank Shaw’s Ultimate Guide to Seafood

The latest cookbook from the wild foods maestro covers just about everything that swims. Plus: Get his recipe for pickled shrimp

Photo: Hank Shaw

Hank Shaw counted them up: Over a lifetime of cooking, and most particularly for the research and writing of Hook, Line, and Supper, the latest in his phenomenally successful line of wild foods cookbooks, Shaw sampled close to five hundred kinds of fish and seafood. 

“And I swear,” he says, “I had exactly one that I will not eat again: Menhaden. Every other fish I have been able to make, at the least, something worth eating. But those things are just bait. Never again.”

Shaw’s wide-ranging seafood palate will be no surprise to fans who flock to his James Beard Award–winning website, Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, and pore through his four previous wild game cookbooks—Hunt, Gather, Cook; Duck, Duck, Goose; Buck, Buck, Moose; and Pheasant, Quail, Cottontail—like some sort of post-modern gastronomic Encyclopedia Britannica. I’ve long been a fan, too, and credit Shaw for turning many of my game cooking approaches inside-out for the better.   

But when it came to fins instead of feathers and hide, Shaw was a little hung up, just like many of his readers. 

“People ask me all the time,” he says, “do you have a recipe for cobia? Or red snapper? Or blackfin tuna?” The species-specific questions were confining. “I had to really think about how to do something that would be useful for readers in the Carolinas and Iowa and Alaska and Mexico.”

The result is a cookbook organized around cooking style rather than specific ingredient. Along with guides to seafood prep and handling, chapters include Broiling and Baking, Poaching, Grillin’ and Chillin’, and the Art of Frying Fish. Other chapters cover seafood fritters, seafood balls, soups, stews, stocks, and sandwiches. Shaw draws on a global array of techniques—see Vietnamese Claypot Catfish and Snapper Veracruz—and they’re all written in his signature approach that pairs the step-by-step with the why and the where, sprinkling history, culture, and personal experience throughout the mix.

“We flipped the script,” he explains. “As I write, assume you can use any fish you’ve got with any recipe unless I tell you otherwise. That approach frees the mind, and it freed me up structurally.”

Shaw hails from New Jersey and lives in Sacramento, California, but he has a deep affinity for the South. Mexican cuisine is a passion, and he’s spent plenty of time rocking on a boat in the Gulf, fishing on both coasts of Florida, stalking trout and suckers in the Ozarks, and reveling in a region that seems to have a love affair with fins rivaled by few others. “The South is all over this book,” he says. “You folks have awesome seafood, and it’s as simple as that.”

Below, check out his recipe for pickled shrimp. It’s a classic Hank Shaw twist, approaching a favorite dish in a way that reimagines the familiar. 

Hook, Line, and Supper: New Techniques and Master Recipes for Everything Caught in Lakes, Rivers and Streams, and at Sea is out now and available at Shaw’s website.

Follow T. Edward Nickens on Instagram @enickens.

Lowcountry Pickled Shrimp

A tangy and supremely riffable recipe from Hank Shaw’s latest cookbook


  • Makes 3 pints

    • 10 oz. pearl onions

    • 2 tbsp. Old Bay seasoning

    • 1 pound shrimp, peeled

    • 3 jalapeño peppers, sliced

    • 2 tbsp. capers, with a little of their brine

    • 1 tsp. dried thyme

    • 1 tsp. mustard seeds

    • 7 oz. lemon juice

    • ¼ cup olive oil

    • Distilled vinegar

“Pickled shrimp is a common Southern appetizer, especially in the Lowcountry, and various versions of it exist from Texas through the Gulf, around Florida up into South Carolina, where it is a Charleston classic. My version is a bit like Mexican escabeche, with pickled onions and jalapeños, but it isn’t so spicy that you can’t eat lots of it.

This recipe is best made with medium shrimp. It’s a nibble, an appetizer, something to eat at a cocktail party or with crackers or on a salad. It excels as a salad topping, where the pickling liquid, which includes some olive oil, becomes the salad dressing. 

If you don’t love every ingredient in my pickled shrimp recipe, you can change things to suit yourself. Onions are traditional, as is mustard seed and bay leaf. Peppers of some sort make an appearance a lot—I use jalapeños, but bell peppers are probably more common. 

Unlike a ceviche, pickled shrimp are actually cooked before pickling. Some cooks just toss a bunch of bay leaves in the salty boiling water, but I prefer either some Old Bay seasoning or Zatarain’s crab boil. It adds one more layer of flavor. Be sure to add a little bit of the cooking liquid into your pickle, maybe a couple tablespoons.”—Hank Shaw, Hook, Line, and Supper

Read more on Hank Shaw‘s new cookbook from G&G’s Wild South columnist here.


  1. Bring a couple of quarts of water to a boil and boil the pearl onions for 3 minutes. Remove the onions but keep the water. Rinse the onions under cold water so you can handle them, then slice off the root end. Use your fingers to pop out a cleaned onion, leaving the peel in your hand. Compost the peels. Set the onions aside. 

  2. Add the Old Bay to the onion water and bring it back to a boil. Add the peeled shrimp and turn off the heat. Pull the shrimp out after a couple of minutes, when they are just cooked through. 

  3. Divide the onions, sliced jalapeños, and shrimp between three pint jars. Mix together the capers, a little of their brine, the thyme, mustard seeds, lemon juice, and olive oil. Pour this evenly into the jars. Add a few spoonfulls of the cooking water.

  4. The shrimp need to be completely submerged, so top up with some vinegar if you need to. Hand-seal the jars and keep in the refrigerator. They can be eaten 24 hours after they’re made, and last about two weeks in the fridge.

Recipe excerpted from Hook, Line, and Supper by Hank Shaw