History of the Seafood Boil Pt. 2
The seafood boil, a longstanding southern staple, may have been born in Louisiana but it certainly didn’t stop there. Like all good recipes, it was passed down through generations, crossing county lines, and state borders, changing hands and flavors as it went. In just a few decades, the Louisiana seafood boil had moved into neighboring states and become something totally different but equally tasty. Frogmore Stew, Beaufort Stew, a Beaufort boil, a Lowcountry boil, a tidewater boil whatever you wanna call it there’s no denying its history and flavor.
After getting its start in the swamp state, centuries of migration kept it crawling slowly north, stretching its tasty reach all across the southeast. The earliest and most noteworthy variation came from the Carolinas and Georgia. In no time at all, the chefs began to swap out their seasonings and seafood until we got the Lowcountry boil we all know and love today.
Some things stayed the same as the recipe began to move up the southern coast. A big pot for everyone to dig into and the staple fixins - like potatoes, corn, and sausage - stuck around. After all, it wouldn’t be much of a boil without those signature additions. While both recipes were born from the ethnic histories of the regions, it was the Carolinas and Georgia that elected for a much milder take on things. So long to the cayenne pepper, say hello to a whole lot of cocktail sauce. Speaking of which, the seafood offerings are where things really began to change. So long to the crawfish of Louisiana, a new crustacean’s crawled its way into the big pot.
Shrimp, a mainstay of the Carolinas, quickly became the staple seafood of this southern stew.
Those juicy little prawns made for the perfect regional replacement to the signature crawfish. With that, the seafood boil had transformed from a Bayou basic into a piece of southern cuisine history. The seafood boil didn’t stop there though, the recipe continued to trek across the country, picking up other delicious options and a certain iconic seasoning — but we’ll save that for another time.
Until then, try your hand at an old-fashioned Lowcountry boil sometime. Everything you need is right in front of you, plus a little more. You’ve got something those first chefs never did, a fresh shaker of Mr. Stick’s. Butter put it to good use.