Thursday, October 27, 2011

Snacking State-by-State: Mississippi II - A potato salad fit for a shrimp

When we think of the Gulf Coast, we think of seafood.  Though Louisiana and Florida usually get the lion's share of the nation's attention when it comes to Gulf oysters, crabs, crawfish and shrimp we would be remiss to leave out the marine resources right off the coast of Gulfport and Biloxi.

Official Name: State of Mississippi
State Nicknames: The Magnolia State; The Hospitality State
Admission to the US: December 10, 1817 (#20)
Capital: Jackson (largest)
Other Important Cities: Gulfport (2nd largest); Biloxi (5th largest), Tupelo (7th largest)
 South, Deep South, Gulf Coast; East South Central (US Census)
RAFT NationsCorn Bread & BBQGumbo
Bordered by:
 Tennessee (north); Alabama (east); Gulf Coast (south); Louisiana (southwest); Arkansas (northwest); the Mississippi River (west)
Official State Foods and Edible Things: white-tailed deer (land mammal); wood duck (waterfowl); largemouth/black bass (fish); honeybee (insect - the honey is what you eat, of course); oyster (shell - again, you eat what lives inside it)
Some Famous and Typical Foods: typical Southern foods, with Cajun foods (gumbo, étouffée, etc) in the southern part of the state; seafood along the Mississippi River and the Gulf Coast (especially crawfish, shrimp, oyster and blue crab)

The Mississippi Department of Marine Resources has made it incredibly easy to find recipes to choose from when exploring Magnolia State seafood.  They've done this through a line of cookbooks, all completely available for free on their website, from their 2010 Mississippi Seafood Cookoff Cookbook (we have such things here too) to books of recipes for shrimp, oysters and even southern Mississippi-specific recipes, for that more Cajun-flavored part of the state.   I must add that the MS DMR didn't make choosing a recipe all that easy.  There were just too many tempting ones to choose from.  But I finally settled on a simple but delicious Southern potato salad, accentuated with Gulf shrimp throughout.

The recipe: Biloxi Bay Potato Salad

Irvin Jackson, Directorate of the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources, provides the recipe that I ended up making.  It's in the "Shrimp" section of their 2005 "Mississippi Seafood Recipes" cookbook (no page numbers, but it helps to know that the same recipe is featured on cards 3 and 4 of their Shrimp Recipe Cards, with a helpful photo of the dish on card 3).  Once you assemble everything, putting it all together is pretty simple.

* potatoes (any potato salad needs potatoes - in this case half of a $5 quart of spuds from the I-83 farmers' market)
* shrimp (Rock shrimp from the Gulf - these were about $14 per lb.  I got half a pound)
* green onions and celery (about $3 total - you will need them raw)
* eggs (hard boiled)
* sweet relish (a little more than a dollar)
* yellow mustard (had it)
* salad dressing (I just used mayonnaise - many a Southern potato salad is coated with mustard and mayo.  Since Hurricane Irene took my previous jar of mayonnaise, I needed a new one.  In this case, I splurged on a jar of Duke's Mayonnaise, that Richmond-based classic and favorite of Southern cooks for almost a century)
* Cajun seasoning (or in lieu of that, Old Bay, which is also quite popular throughout the South)

You will need to boil three things: the potatoes, the eggs and the shrimp.

Yes, we prefer to steam those shrimp here, but that's not how they do it in Mississippi, and since this is a Mississippi recipe I figured I would stick with the spirit of their shrimp.  A quick way to do it is to follow the instructions for steaming shrimp that you find on the side of the Old Bay can, only with enough water to boil it.

Boil, peel and cut up the potatoes, and mix them with the chopped green onions and celery.

Mix into the veggies the boiled shrimp, sliced eggs, relish, mustard, mayo and Old Bay.  And that's pretty much all you need to do.

Like the Mississippi mud cake, this shrimp filled potato salad was quite easy to make - a running theme in these specific Mississippi recipes I chose, it seems.  Add salt, Old Bay and Cajun seasonings to taste (I like mine slightly saltier than this) and serve with just about anything, or eat it on its own.  It's substantial enough after all.


Civil War Interactive & Blue Gray Daily.  "Welcome to the Civil War Interactive Cookbook: Articles and Recipes for your 19th Century Cooking", date of publication unknown.  Copyright 2011 Civil War Interactive.

Edge, John T. A Gracious Plenty: Recipes and Recollections from the American South. An Ellen Rolfes Book. For the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi. G. P. Putnam's Sons: New York, 1999.

Jackson, Irvin.  "Biloxi Bay Potato Salad".  Mississippi Department of Marine Resources (recipe card) copyright Mississippi Department of Marine Resources, 2011.  Also published in Mississippi Seafood Recipes by the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources, copyright Mississippi Department of Marine Resources, 2003.

Wilson, Charles Reagan. "Introduction: The South: Who, Where, and What's for Dinner".  In A Gracious Plenty: Recipes and Recollections from the American South by John T. Edge. An Ellen Rolfes Book. For the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi. G. P. Putnam's Sons: New York, 1999.

Some information also obtained from Wikipedia's "Mississippi" page and other pages, and the Food Timeline State Foods link to "Mississippi".