“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