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According To Smoky

Welcome to According to Smoky. Here you will find the latest and greatest from C. Clark "Smoky" Hale notable 'baster', author, publisher, television star in both the barbecue and 'the real' world. And yes, he is a real person and not the webmaster.

Smoky will be offering his talents, techniques and secrets discovered over the last 150 years, or so. He will be to the point, pull no punches and if you suffer through the process, you will become a much better outdoor cook, turning out masterpiece meals for friends and family alike.

In this column, Smoky donned his mask and fins and has been slipping around on the ocean floor in search of just the right meat to grill . . . . . take notes!

So, with no further adieu, we turn the mike to Smoky. You're on Smoky . . . . .

Thanks PC,



By: Smoky Hale

Americans consume about 600 million (count 'em) pounds of shrimp annually. I would guess that 500 million pounds are either boiled or fried. That's a pity because shrimp are so versatile. It's like playing the piano using only two notes. Which, by the way, covers the range of my singing voice.

Most of the shrimp caught in U.S. waters and brought to market are either the brown shrimp (Penaeus aztecus) or the white shrimp (Penaus setiferus). Pink shrimp get lumped into the brown group and Caribbean whites fall in with whites. Shrimp imported frozen from other countries may be one of several other commercial species. Brown and white seasons don't coincide so we have the opportunity to have fresh shrimp more months than if they did.

As you know, shrimp are sold by "count". The count, 21-25 or 16-20 indicates the number of shrimp of that size that it takes to weigh one pound. Depending upon where you buy them, shrimp may be called some rather indefinite names, such as "Jumbo" "Extra large" or "Medium". While one man's "Medium" may seem pretty small to you, there is an official scale.

The National Marine Fisheries Service has published a standard reference. The categories are for raw, headless shrimp. It gives you some idea why "Medium" looks so small.

A 10-15 count is "Extra colossal". Can you believe it? It sounds like P.T. Barnum was a consultant. "Medium", meanwhile, is a 43-50 count. The middle of the chart looks like this.

Size Count

Jumbo 21-25
Extra large 26-30
Large 31-35
Medium large 36-42
If you really want to go petite, some species run as high as 160 per pound.

Selecting shrimp is just following your nose. Fresh shrimp have no odor and retain their natural color. If they smell like ammonia, pass them up. If they are beginning to look like they have already been boiled, look for something else. Don't worry about any iodine odor. It only means they are from deep water.

In addition to being succulent and savory, shrimp have several delicious attributes. They have more protein per ounce (20.5%) than beef, pork or chicken. They are a little rich on the cholesterol scale, but it is not the bad kind. And their fat content is unsaturated. Plus, they deliver enough iodine to make you goiter-proof for a year.

Pay a visit to your friendly fish monger while shrimp are in season. Go for "Large" (31-35) as minimum and try for at least "Jumbo" (16-20). If his selection doesn't suit you, ask him when his next shipment will arrive. Go ahead and place your order and schedule your event.

Invest in a shrimp shucking tool. They make the chore of peeling shrimp and de-veining much easier. Your local gourmet shop ought to have them. I recommend the metal model rather than the plastic. You simply insert the tip of the tool under the shell just behind the head and push. The shrimp pops out of his shell in prompt and pristine fashion.


For four adults, rinse and shell (not the other way around) about 2 pounds of Jumbo shrimp.

Marinate 1-3 hours in:

Juice of 3 limes or 4 lemons
1 T. grated horseradish - not horseradish sauce or cream,
2 t. dill seed or 2 T. fresh dill weed. (Heat the seeds in a pan for
a few minutes to bring out the flavor.)
1 Cup dry white wine.
1 Cup Snappy Tom or V-8 juice with jalapena pepper.
3 T. Extra virgin olive oil.
3 T. Finely chopped Onion
1 Clove garlic, mashed

Mix well, stir in shrimp to coat well and refrigerate in a covered container or plastic bag.

Prepare the grill for broiling - temperature about 500 degrees. Break up three bay leaves and soak in water. When the grill is ready, brush the grill with butter or olive oil and lay on the shrimp. Drop about half the bay leaves on the coals and close the grill. Using tongs, turn in about 3 minutes, add remainder of bay leaves.. Remove as soon as shrimp firms up - 2-3 minutes . Don't worry about under cooking, but don't over-cook. Serve immediately.

It is best to precede this instant with preliminary munchies and appetizing accompaniments or you will have to fight for your fair share.

The Great American Barbecue & Grilling Manual
Smoky Has A New Book
The Great American Barbecue & Grilling Manual
416 pages of great information and wonderful recipes.
@ The Barbecue Store
Enjoy. 1997 by Smoky Hale
C. Clark Hale
8168 Hwy 98 E.
McComb, MS 39648

Smoky's 5th basic position for really great barbecue'n.

Return to Smoky's Columns

'According to Smoky' is © by C. Clark Hale
who is solely responsible for its content. Comments
should be addresses to
The Barbecue Store

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Get all of Smoky Hale's wisdom and become the best cook around. Learn to do it right!

Get all of Smoky Hale's wisdom and become the best cook around. Learn to do it right!

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