Start Boiling Shrimp In Beer And Thank Us Later

Beer doesn't get enough credit for its work in the kitchen. Though many cooks take their position behind the stove or at the grill with a drink in their hands, they forget to set aside a brew for their mise en place. That's a mistake — especially when it comes to seafood.

Since shrimp cook quickly, a stock has to pack a punch to permeate the critters as they simmer. Luckily, the beloved drink, along with a hefty serving of Old Bay Seasoning and other aromatics, is more than up to the task. From aroma to flavor, the tasting notes that make light beer deliciously sippable also add a mild pep to the meal.

A shrimp boil is particularly festive in the summer, but — in the winter months when the crustacean is out of season – take advantage of the freezer aisle and warm spices to get in the spirit. As for how much shrimp to serve per person, about a half-pound each should do the trick. Then, put a beer — or three — to work in the pot.

Which beers boil best?

Opt for lighter beers like lager, pilsner, pale ale, or even amber beer. Wheat-forward brews give the boiling liquid a malty richness and notes of citrus without overpowering the dish. Pilsners and lagers offer crisp and fruity notes — whereas dry pale ales balance out a buttery sauce.

Heavy dark beers are not a good fit for a boil, nor are hoppy IPAs. As tasty as they may be, they imbue too strong a flavor, and their extra hops add bitterness that will overwhelm shrimp's mild sweetness. This is also not a good time to use up seasonal beers or funky cans. If you didn't like the beer on its own, you likely won't like it with shrimp.

Plus, as with any liquid, a beer's flavor concentrates as it cooks down. Avoid bringing out the beverage's harsher notes by paying attention to the pot — in other words, don't set it and forget it.

How to boil shrimp

Most recipes call for three 12-ounce cans for two pounds of shrimp, but you can scale back the intensity by adding a cup of water or reducing it to an equal beer-to-water ratio. It's fine to use flat beer here, but if you forget to pop the cans hours in advance, carbonation won't hurt. In addition to butter, onion, and Old Bay, try adding lemon to the pot as well to complement the beer — or a hearty dash of turmeric to give the shrimp a beer-y, golden glow.

Bring the concoction to a boil and let the flavors meld for five to 10 minutes. If you're unsure if it's seasoned or punchy enough, give it a taste. Then add and cook shrimp for another three to five minutes. For those worried about texture, turn off the pot to ensure an even gentler cook.

This medley works on other shellfish, like lobster, too. And if you scale down the amount of beer (or choose an extra large pot), you can steam the shrimp in beer instead of boiling them. This allows for even more control over their cooking speed.