The days are getting shorter and cooler nights are just around the corner. What better way to send off the season than with a simple summer shrimp boil? Over 80 percent of the shrimp eaten in this country is pond-raised in Asia and South America. Locally harvested South Carolina shrimp is your chance to taste the real deal—wild-caught shrimp from the waters of the Atlantic. In season for only two more months, it's typically "fresh"-frozen (sometimes right on the trawling boats) and sold over crushed ice. Which isn't a bad way to serve it either, with the sweet heat of homemade cocktail sauce.
3 bay leaves
2 tsp whole black peppercorns
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
1 tbs plus 1 tsp each: whole cloves, whole allspice, whole mustard seeds
1 small sweet onion (like Walla Walla), peeled and quartered
1 lb large (21 to 25 count) unpeeled shrimp
Place seasoning mix, onion and 6 quarts of water in large stockpot. Bring to boil over high heat. Lower heat slightly but continue boiling for at least 5 minutes to infuse the water with the seasonings. (You will smell it.) Add shrimp to spice-infused boiling water and cook until just tender, about 3 minutes. Do not overcook.
Drain and transfer shrimp to serving platter and when cool enough to handle, peel and eat.
To Serve Cold
Drain and transfer shrimp to ice bath (3 trays of ice cubes in a large bowl of cold water). Cool, peel and eat.