Ceviche is one of my favorite summertime appetizers. This refreshing citrus marinated seafood dish (think sweet shrimp, delicate fish, tender octopus) is perfect for summer entertaining. It’s a light, bright dish that bursts with vibrant flavor, and it’s so easy to make! It just takes time to allow the citrus juices to “cook” the fish, so get prepping the day before you serve.
The following Spicy Shrimp Ceviche recipe is from one of my favorite cookbook authors, Lucy Buffett (sister of the famed singer Jimmy Buffett). Her latest cookbook, Gumbo Love: Recipes for Gulf Coast Cooking, Entertaining, and Savoring the Good Life, is one you’ll want to cook your way through this summer. The book begins with her Ten Grateful Ingredients for a Bright Life and a Happy Kitchen, my favorite of the ten being, “Say ‘thank you’ every day for your blessings and bless your challenges with gratitude.” Have you ever read anything like that in a cookbook? Me neither, and I think it’s just grand.
Chapter 1 begins with dessert, and why not? “Life is Sweet: Eat Dessert First” features comforts such as Blueberry Almond Bread Pudding and Southern favorites like Buttermilk Orange Chess Pie.
Starters and Snacks includes Lucy’s homage to the spirit of New Orleans with her Gulf Oyster Brochette Drizzled with Honey and Blue Cheese as well as Honey Ale Pimento Cheese and Stone Crabs with Key Lime-Mustard Sauce.
The section on Gumbo starts with her Summer Seafood Gumbo, a recipe that’s an all-day cooking affair, but one you’ll love (get the recipe here), and also features a Winter Gumbo with chicken and andouille sausage, and a True Acadian (Cajun) Gumbo.
The drool-worthy recipes continue with Main Dishes such as Spicy Coffee-Rubbed Beef Tenderloin, Classic Coastal Crab-Stuffed Shrimp with Honey-Sriracha Glaze, and Garlicky Good-Woman Chicken (Chicken Bonne Femme), a whole chicken that’s cooked with bacon, tasso (a spicy cured pork), onions, mushrooms, white wine, potatoes, and garlic. You could make a meal with the side dishes alone: Andouille Baked Grits and Thyme-Scented Scalloped Potatoes with Caramelized Onions? Yes, please!
In true Southern cooking style there’s a chapter on Deep-Fried Favorites. Fried Green Tomatoes, Fried Gulf Oysters, Shrimp Fritters, Deep Fried Okra, and, of course, Hushpuppies.
Salads include a version of the New Orleans favorite sandwich, the Muffuletta, as well as simple and vibrant salads like the Mango, Avocado, and Arugula Salad with Sour Orange Vinaigrette.
Sandwich lovers will want to dive headfirst into her po’boys: Day-After Brisket Po’Boy and the 1/2 Shrimp and 1/2 Oyster Loaf (or Po’Boy). There’s a scrumptious Key West Tuna Burger with Pickled Onion, Soy-Soaked Cakes, and Wasabi Mayo that’s perfect for indoor or outdoor grilling, as well as Cuban Sandwiches, and Lulu’s at Homeport Crab Melt.
The cookbook finishes with Vacation Libations and Mocktails, Sauces and Dressing, even a section of party menu ideas to make your summer entertaining a cinch. It's a deliciously "happy" cookbook that you'll be reaching for all summer long!
2 pounds poached wild-caught Gulf shrimp (recipe follows)
1/3 cup finely chopped red onion
½ cup finely chopped celery
1 cup quartered cherry tomatoes
¾ cup peeled, seeded, and chopped cucumber
1 teaspoon finely chopped seeded jalapeño
2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh ginger
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro, plus ¼ cup for serving, if desired
Juice of 5 limes (about 1 cup)
Juice of 2 lemons (about ½ cup)
Juice of 1 orange (about ½ cup)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon white pepper
½ teaspoon sugar
1 avocado, pitted, peeled, and sliced (optional)
2 limes, quartered (optional)
1. Chop the shrimp into thirds or bite-size pieces, or leave them whole if you prefer, and place in a large bowl.
2. Add the red onion, celery, tomatoes, cucumber, jalapeño, garlic, ginger, cilantro, lime juice, lemon juice, orange juice, olive oil, salt, white pepper, and sugar and stir well.
3. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate overnight. While the mixture marinates, occasionally turn the container to evenly coat the shrimp in the liquid.
4. Transfer the shrimp and liquid to a glass bowl to serve or divide among eight martini glasses. If desired, garnish with avocado, cilantro, and lime.
Makes 2 pounds shrimp
"I use this method to cook shrimp that have been peeled. It takes only a few minutes, so be careful not to overcook the shrimp. Poaching lets them absorb the flavors from the poaching liquid, which is called court bouillon in fancy French cooking and typically uses wine. Staying in step with my beloved Gulf Coastal Caribbean and Mexican influences, I use tequila or rum!" ~ Lucy Buffett
2¼ pounds large wild-caught headless Gulf shrimp in the shell
8 cups water
½ cup tequila or rum
1 lemon, sliced into rounds
½ white onion, coarsely chopped
6 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons sea salt
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
4 fresh cilantro sprigs
1. Peel and devein the shrimp. Keep refrigerated until ready to use.
2. Place the water in a large heavy skillet or saucepan. Add the tequila, lemon, onion, garlic, salt, peppercorns, and cilantro. Cover and bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil for 5 minutes.
3. Reduce the heat until the liquid is simmering. Add the shrimp, cover, and cook for 3 minutes only! Pour the shrimp into a strainer and immediately cover with ice. When the shrimp are cool, remove and discard the lemon rounds, garlic, and cilantro. Refrigerate in an airtight container until ready to use.
Get Lucy's Summer Seafood Gumbo recipe here!
Lucy "LuLu" Buffett cooked her way from coast to coast before returning home to Alabama to open a modest little bayside gumbo and burger joint that doubled as a bait shop. Now, she is the successful restaurateur of two locations of LuLu's in Gulf Shores, Alabama, and Destin, Florida, where she serves over a million guests a year. Her adventures-culinary and otherwise-inspired her to write LuLu's Kitchen (formerly self-published as Crazy Sista Cooking), and now Gumbo Love.