October 25, 2023

Off the Hook in Beaufort, South Carolina

recipe for Lemon-Pecorino Shrimp

From a seafood market on St. Helena Island, old school and new-school flavors get a seat at the table.

It's lunchtime at the beach and the line at Hilda Upton's Shrimp Shack along Sea Island Parkway is getting long. I finally get to order my shrimp burger and sit down at one of the wooden tables when I notice a shrimp boat pulling up across the street at the docks in front of the Gay Seafood Company. I finish the shrimp burger and head over to the market. It's the Mrs. B and captain Mako is coming in with a big catch.

Captain Mako of the Mrs. B

Captain Mako, Jim Buchanan is one of about 20 shrimp boat captains still working in Beaufort County. Buchanan owns the 46-foot Mrs. B, named for his wife's shop in Port Royal. He's now 80 years old with no plans to retire. He just loves being on the ocean and the hard work that goes with it. He always sells his shrimp to the Gay Fish Co., a St. Helena Island landmark that turns 75 this year, making it one of the oldest shrimping businesses in Beaufort County.

Once inside the market I see plenty of ocean fresh shrimp, clams, scallops and crabmeat resting on ice.

What Inspiring Dish to Create?

Will I make Southern fried shrimp, Asian-inspired crispy fried shrimp and rice noodle bowls or shrimp tacos? I decided I'd impress everyone  with a colorful pasta supper, complete with fresh shellfish right off the boats. My recipe is from one of my favorite food writers, Lynn Wells - Lemon-Pecorino Shrimp Pasta.

Lemon-Pecorino Shrimp Pasta

Serves 6

3 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 cups cherry tomatoes, sliced in half lengthwise

1 1/4 pounds fresh, large shrimp, peeled and deveined

salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 cloves garlic minced

1 pound angel hair pasta, uncooked

1 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest

1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted and sliced in half

juice of 3 lemons

4 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, divided

4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, divided

1/2 cup Pecorino Romano cheese, grated

In a large skillet, combine olive oil and butter over medium-high heat. Add tomatoes and shrimp, season with salt and pepper, and saute 1 minute. Turn shrimp to other side, add garlic and saute until shrimp turn pink and just begin to curl, about 1 minute. remove from heat and set aside.

Cook pasta in salted water according to the directions listed on the package. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water.

Toss drained pasta and shrimp along with 1/3 cup pasta water, lemon zest, olives, and lemon juice. Add more water as needed. Toss in 2 tablespoons each of the parsley and the basil. Sprinkle with grated cheese.Just before serving, sprinkle with the remaining parsley and basil. Serve warm.

Maybe I'll even make some hush puppies to go with it!