4 Fresh Gulf Seafood Recipes

Leslie Byars Register shares her go-to seafood dishes that make vacation meal-planning a snap.

I love the ease of a small vacation rental or second home. Whether you are one step from the laundry room or two steps from the pantry, it’s all there at an arm’s reach. Life just seems simpler. The recipes below are perfect for that kind of living. You probably already have most of the ingredients on hand (such as flour or vegetable oil), and there is little cleanup required. 

The Shrimp-and-Corn Chowder comes together in one pot in well under an hour. You can make the West Indies Salad ahead (it needs to marinate for at least 8 hours), and serve it in individual jars for a quick lunch or sunset appetizer. Easy Peasy Crab Cakes—well, the name says it all. You can assemble and sauté them in no time. For the BBQ Shrimp Bake, all you need is one baking dish. And guess what? It serves as the centerpiece too! This spring, let’s simplify the prep work and enjoy more time with friends and family!

Bowl of Shrimp and Corn Chowder

Shrimp-and-Corn Chowder

6 slices thick-cut bacon
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
4 small green onions, thinly sliced, white and green parts divided
4 stalks celery, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels, about 4 ears
1 (14.75-ounce) can cream-style corn
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or less if desired
1 pound medium-size shrimp, peeled and deveined
½ cup half-and-half
Hot sauce for serving

Cook bacon in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat until crisp. Remove the bacon from the pan to a paper towel-lined paper plate. Set aside. Discard all but 1 tablespoon bacon fat.

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Add butter to pan. Add white part only of green onions, reserving tops for garnish. Add celery, and cook on medium heat until tender, about 3 minutes. Stir in garlic, salt, and pepper. 

Sprinkle the flour over the top of the onion mixture, stirring constantly for about 1 minute. Slowly add milk, whisking constantly. Add the fresh corn, cream-style corn, and cayenne. Bring to a boil, and let bubble until thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in shrimp, and cook until shrimp turn pink, about 3 more minutes. Turn heat to low, and stir in half-and-half. 

Garnish with crumbled, cooked bacon and green onion tops. Add a dash of hot sauce, if desired. Serve immediately. Serves 8

Leslie’s Tip: To make this recipe even faster, I like to buy the shrimp already peeled and deveined. 

Plate of crab cakes

Easy Peasy Crab Cakes

1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 large egg, beaten
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 pound jumbo lump crabmeat
3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 to 3 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley
Vegetable or canola oil for frying
Remoulade Sauce (see recipe below)
Lemon wedges

In a small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, egg, Dijon, Worcestershire, and hot sauce; season with salt and pepper. Set aside. 

In a medium bowl, stir together crabmeat, panko, and parsley. Fold into mayonnaise mixture, and then form into 8 patties. 

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add oil, rotating pan to coat evenly, and heat until shimmering. Add crab cakes, and cook, in batches, until golden and crispy, about 3 to 5 minutes per side. 

Serve with Remoulade Sauce and lemon wedges. Serves 4 – 6

Remoulade Sauce

1¼ cups mayonnaise
¼ cup Creole mustard
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon Creole or Cajun seasoning
2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
2 teaspoons dill pickle juice
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1 large garlic clove, minced

Mix all the ingredients in a medium bowl. Chill for several hours in the refrigerator before serving. Makes 1 1/2 cups

Learn from Leslie: I like to chill the formed patties on a baking sheet in the refrigerator for an hour or two before cooking. It makes them hold their shape nicely. They also can be made up to 24 hours in advance of sautéing. 


BBQ Shrimp Bake

1 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup olive oil 
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup lemon juice, from about 2 lemons
2 tablespoons ground black pepper
1 tablespoon hot sauce
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
4 to 5 cloves garlic, minced
3 pounds unpeeled medium to large shrimp
2 lemons, thinly sliced
Fresh basil leaves for garnish, optional
French bread

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 

Combine first 9 ingredients in a medium-size bowl. Pour half of the mixture into a large baking dish. Layer shrimp and lemon slices in sauce, and pour remaining sauce over shrimp and lemons. 

Bake uncovered for 20 minutes, stirring twice, or until shrimp are pink. 

Place baking dish in the middle of the table, garnish with fresh basil leaves if desired, and serve with crusty French bread for dipping and lots of paper towels! Serves 6

Learn from Leslie: This is the one recipe for which I choose paper over cloth napkins. Trust me—this one can get messy, but it’s so worth it!


West Indies Salad

1 pound jumbo lump crabmeat
1 medium onion, chopped
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup ice water
Salt and pepper to taste
Saltine crackers

Place crabmeat in a medium-size bowl; top with onion. Add oil, vinegar, and ice water. Cover and chill 6 to 8 hours. 

Stir mixture, add salt and pepper, and serve with saltine crackers. Makes about 2 cups

Leslie Likes: For individual servings, serve West Indies Salad in ½-cup canning jars. To dress up the jars, simply place the canning rings back on the rims without the lids.

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Leslie Byars Register

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