Brown Pelicans splash in the turquoise ocean looking for dinner. The sugar beach bumps up against the soft evening waves. You sip a smart cocktail lingering on the expansive lanai for the last glowing moment of a deep orange sunset. Is this really Alabama?
Gulf Shores and the Orange Beach area has been much maligned in the press since the BP oil spill. In truth it’s a stunning locale with loads of natural beauty in a relaxed beach side town. Yes the beach clean up goes on but the water and sand are clean and stringent measures are taken to assure wildlife preservation and water quality. There is lots of fishing, golfing, dolphin watching in the bay, yachting, sunning, strolling the thirty miles of sandy beach, shopping, great music and a
fabulous restaurant or two. Horses still graze under groves of century old pecan trees standing resistant to hurricane and the passing of time. There are few opportunities to ride anything but a boat here but you can contact the tourism departments to help you find a nearby trail ride. I’m including Gulf Shores and Orange Beach this time because these lovely Southern folks need our help. It is so beautiful here that you might want to take your next vacation to the sun here instead of Mexico. The dish featured below is not for the trail but right now in Oregon we are not doing much of that in winter! Find out more at www.gulfshores.com and www.orangebeach.com
Lulu ‘s Perfect Fried Shrimp
One of my favorite stops in Alabama is Lulu’s at Homeport Marina. Lucy “Lulu” Buffett is the sister of Jimmy Buffet of Margaritaville fame. Lulu’s restaurant is located on the intra-coastal waterway www.lulubuffett.com. This inland water “highway” meanders from Florida to Texas attracting many boaters for fishing, sightseeing or just getting away from it all. Lulu’s is located right on the waterfront
here, so if you want to have a fantastic lunch or dinner pull up to the boat dock or parking lot get ready to enjoy. Among many house specialty drinks, Lulu’s labeled Tequila, and comprehensive menu, I’ve chosen one of my favorites. Before I begin let me give you a bit of a primer. L.A. in these parts means lower Alabama; when I refer to” L.A. Caviar” it’s a delicious blend of black eyed peas herbs and spices, no fish eggs in sight ! Lulu’s is known for their “Big Fry Basket” and here in the deep south frying is elevated to an art form. Not your greasy, oily food that so many establishments consider fried. The platter consists of grouper or catfish (depending on availability), shrimp, oysters, crab claws, french fries and hush puppies. I tried hush puppies in Alabama for the first time, and if you ever see them on the menu try them, they are delicious. More on these, fried pickles and the “L.A. Caviar” at a later date. Let’s cook!
Lulu’s Perfect Fried Shrimp
Makes 6 servings
2 cups “Lulu’s Crazy Frying Flour“ (a mix of 2 cups flour and “Lulu’s Creola seasoning” – recipe follows)
2 cups flour
1 ½ tsp salt
1 tbs freshly cracked black pepper
2 tbs Lulu’s Creola seasoning (recipe follows)
2 cups whole milk
2 lbs large Gulf shrimp cleaned, headless and no tail
6 cups peanut oil
Lemon wedges for garnish
Lulu’s Creola Seasoning (Can be stored in an airtight container for future use.)
1 tbs salt
2 tbs granulated garlic
4 tsps granulated onion
¼ cup paprika (Hungarian hot is best)
2 tsps cayenne pepper
2 tsps white pepper
½ tsp thyme, dried
½ tsp oregano, dried
Place the flour in one bowl and the milk in another bowl. Heat the oil to at least 355F degrees. Use a candy thermometer to reach the correct temp or the food will be oily. Dredge a handful of the shrimp in the flour, then into the milk and finally into the flour mix again. Gently place the shrimp in the oil, avoid any splashing! Fry 4 minutes or until the shrimp rise to the top. Scoop out with a slotted spoon and place on paper towels to blot any excess oil. Serve these hot with plenty of lemon wedges. Your guests will absolutely love this dish.
Lulus recipe book “Crazy Sista Cooking” is available at www.crazysistacooking.com
See you when you get here y‘all.
All photos courtesy of Kurt Winner