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spacer Shrimp Burgers

Recent actions don't really deserve a recipe tonite, here's one anyway:

Shrimp burgers is where it's at; below is the recipe (acutally, I made these for me and mom tonite - hint: they're easy). The history of these, a la NYT, is attached below the recipe. The recipe is somewhat different in Florida, but for the sake of accuracy, I give you the traditional SC Low Country recipe:

SHRIMP BURGERS - Time: 1 hour
Printer version of this recipe

1 pound shrimp
2 tablespoons scallions
3 tablespoons diced celery
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
11/2 teaspoons lemon zest
3 tablespoons mayonnaise (NOT Miracle Whip)
1 cup cornbread crumbs (or bread crumbs)
1 egg, beaten
Salt and pepper, to taste
Tabasco sauce, to taste (of course - this is my recipe, you know)
1 tablespoon peanut oil

1. Cook and peel the shrimp, and chop.

2. In a large bowl mix the shrimp with the scallions, parsley, and lemon zest. Stir in the mayonnaise, cornbread crumbs and the egg, and beat with a whisk or wooden spoon until evenly distributed. Season w/ salt, pepper & tabasco to taste.

3. Form into patties and saute in peanut oil until both sides are nicely browned. Drain on paper towel. Serve on hamburger buns or choice of bread with lettuce, tomato, and tartar sauce. NOTE: really hard crusty stuff is not, IMO best; hearty, but softer stuff, w/seeds or w/o depending on personal preference is GOOD. Some like it with lots of tartar sauce, but I don't unless it's homemade. Yield: 4 servings.

- pax -
Andrew H. Auld

From the NYTimes:
MOST Southern foods have taken flight since World War II, landing in far-flung places around the nation. There's decent Texas-style barbecued brisket in Queens, Krispy Kreme doughnuts in Albuquerque and admirable grits in Baltimore. But a few Southern regionalisms still cling to their roots. Shrimp burgers, found in small coastal villages in the Carolinas, are nearly unheard of in upstate Greenville or Charlotte.

But there's no good reason to make them stay put.

A shrimp burger is simply a cake of shrimp and seasonings served on a bun, with lettuce, tomato and tartar sauce. Like lobster rolls or crab cakes, shrimp burgers concentrate the sweet essence of shellfish and complement it with semisweet seasonings like parsley, onion a nd bell peppers. They are easy to prepare, and they bring the warmth of a summer beach picnic indoors the perfect antidote for fall's colder days.

All shrimp burgers call for cooked shrimp, ground or finely chopped, and for a binding that may include mayonnaise, bread crumbs, eggs, cooked rice or any combination thereof. Like biscuits or gumbo, no two recipes are the same. We've had shrimp burgers as smooth and tender as a boiled dumpling, and ones as colorful and chunky as a chef's salad. Most shrimp burgers are fried, but they bake well, too, if they have enough binding to hold them together.

Beaufort, S.C., is the heart of shrimp burger country. Several restaurants in the area offer them, but the best is found on nearby St. Helena Island, at the Shrimp Shack, a roadside take-out window on stilts, with just a bench and a couple of tables. It's like dining in a treehouse. The burger is similarly lofty, with a thin, crispy crust enveloping a uniformly pink, slightly spongy cake that unleashes the turbocharged flavor of ocean shrimp. The shrimp come from boats docked directly across the street at a wharf built in the 1940's by the parents of the Shrimp Shack's owner, Hilda Upton.

The freshest shrimp are essential to a shrimp burger. Since fresh shrimp have more natural moisture and stickiness when ground or chopped, they require less binding than frozen shrimp; you can increase the proportion of shrimp in the burger and it won't fall apart in the frying pan. Dryer, frozen shrimp don't hold together nearly as well and require large doses of breading and mayonnaise to compensate. You can further boost the amount of shrimp in the burger if you prepare the ground mixture in advance and chill (or even freeze) the patties overnight in plastic wrap, then remove them just before frying. Mrs. Upton developed the closely guarded Shrimp Shack recipe with Martha Jenkins, another St. Helena Island native, and has been serving shrimp burgers since she opened the Shrimp Shack in 1978. But she's quick to give credit for the tradition to the local fishermen.

"Shrimpers are on the water for days, sometimes weeks," she said. "Shrimp burgers were something they fixed on the boats, in the galleys."Shrimp burgers may have been invented to add variety to a diet dominated by shrimp and to make use of shrimp unsold at the end of the day. It is no surprise that shrimp burgers are found in towns like Morehead City, N.C.; Georgetown, S.C.; and Thunderbolt, Ga. all are tiny towns with a large number of shrimpers among the residents.

In fact, recipes for shrimp croquettes and shrimp cakes (using similar ingredients and proportions) have been a part of Southern cookery for a century or more, appearing in such classic Lowcountry cookbooks as "The Charleston Junior League's Charleston Receipts" and Rhett Gay Woodward's 1930 "00 Years of Charleston Cooking." Bill Neal, the late chef of Crook's Corner in Chapel Hill, N.C., noted in his book "Southern Cooking" that his shrimp burger recipe was long used as a stuffing for fish.

Restaurants, takeout stands and drive-ins probably applied the name "burger" to their shrimp patties in the 1950's in the wake of the expanding McDonald's hamburger empire. There are signs that shrimp burgers are wandering away from the docks. In metropolitan Charleston, they make an occasional appearance on the specials menu at Hominy Grill. The chef, Robert Stehling, makes a burger, studded with green onion, celery and parsley, that stands out for its unorthodox use of cornbread crumbs and lemon zest, as well as for its depth of flavor the clear shrimp taste shines through layers of aromatics.

In the Dining Concourse at Grand Central Terminal, the Shoebox Cafe serves a "Low Country Shrimp Burger," inspired by the burgers that its owner, Alexander Smalls, encountered on family trips to Beaufort in the 1960's. The shrimp burger at the S hoebox Cafe is comfortingly traditional, with the crumbly texture of a fried hush puppy and plenty of sweet onion and bell pepper. Mr. Smalls employs whole morsels of coarsely chopped shrimp along with the ground shrimp, to give the burger a meatier texture and to appease the tastes of big-city folk. "In the North," he said, "people want to see their shrimp." In Mr. Smalls's home kitchen, however, he often embellishes his recipe, seasoning the shrimp with nutmeg and ginger, adding spinach, and substituting wasabi mayonnaise for tartar sauce inspirations that, to our knowledge, haven't yet made the return trip