Mess Level: Low
Yield: 4 Servings
Prep Time: 15 min
Cook Time: None
- 1lb Raw Shrimp
- 1 Medium Red Onion
- Stems/Fronds of One Fennel Bulb
- 1 Lemon
- 3 Cloves Garlic
- 1 Tablespoon Black Peppercorns
- 1 Serrano Pepper (Optional)
- 1 Tablespoon Mustard Seeds (optional)
- ½ teaspoon Salt
- ½ teaspoon Sugar
- 2 Tablespoons Water
- 1 ½ Cups Apple Cider Vinegar
Note: I do not recommend buying pre-cooked shrimp for this recipe.
- Cook the shrimp according to my method here: How to Perfectly Cook Shrimp or simmer gently in a pan of water until just cooked through and bright pink.
- Immediately plunge the shrimp into an ice bath to stop the cooking then let them drain. I recommend removing the shell unless you’re serving a “peel-and-eat” style. Leave the tail on if desired.
- Slice the red onion into strips, crush the garlic and remove the peel, halve the lemon and slice one half into wheels, and cut the fennel stems so they’ll fit into a jar.
- Heat the water on the stove or in the microwave and dissolve the salt and sugar into it. Add this to the bottom of a large mason jar.
- Juice the remaining lemon half into the jar, then begin alternating your aromatics and the shrimp into the jar.
- Pack the ingredients in tightly enough so all the shrimp fits but be careful not to crush it. Don’t worry if you have some onion, lemon, or fennel leftover.
- Pour the cider vinegar over everything, put the lid on tightly and shake to mix. Store in the fridge for at least 20 minutes and up to 48 hours. Enjoy!
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- Gluten Free: Yes! This dish is naturally gluten free.
Meal Prep: Follow these steps if you want to prep ahead of time:
- Complete steps 1-7
- Will keep in the fridge for up to 48 hours.
Who the heck eats a pickled shrimp?
Probably the same people that eat pickled eggs...
Hopefully, you since you made it this far through the recipe! Vinegar and seafood is a tale as old as time. If you like ceviche odds are you’ll love these.
Why shouldn’t I use pre-cooked shrimp for this?
Do you like rubber?
Because you don’t know how long ago it was cooked. You want fresh shrimp for this and if it was overcooked or cooked and then frozen, it will begin to break down in the vinegar and will start to resemble #45 - An orange, wrinkly mess.
Can I change the flavor profile?
Change is good!
Absolutely! Use whatever herbs, spices, and flavorings you like!
How would you serve pickled shrimp?
Where do I start???
In a fresh, Thai salad or as an appetizer. I would fill a pretty dish with salted ice, lay down some big, crisp lettuce leaves and pile the shrimp on top. Whisk some herbs into mayonnaise and set that next to it, and slice up a crusty baguette, don’t worry about toasting it. Don’t forget the toothpicks and a bowl for the tails!
Ramblings of a Line Cook
What a weird thing to eat, right? I wonder who first picked up a shrimp and thought “I bet this sucker would make a great pickle?” If you want to know the truth it was probably an exasperated and overworked Sous Chef who’s line cook had blanched off twice the amount of shrimp needed for the day and to keep it from spoiling you just throw that sucker in vinegar and serve it as a “special.”
“Make a brine, if your thick head can follow a recipe this time, and pickle those shrimp. Mind you toast the spices and you cover the shrimp fully. Then you will pick 30 grams of thyme and make aioli by hand to teach you to pay attention.” “Yes, Chef” Is the only appropriate response unless you feel like getting stuck on scutt for the next three shifts or until someone else fucks up badly enough to replace you on the bottom of the ever-rotating, kitchen totem pole.
Pickled shrimp was an anomaly to me that I first discovered during a private event honoring a Frida Kahlo exhibit recently unveiled at a local museum. Frida Kahlo was more than her eyebrows and paintings, she was also a cook and has a book floating around in the underworld that sports such recipes as authentic Mexican Moles’ and pickled shrimp with savory, ground and toasted nuts.
The pickled shrimp was shockingly delicious. If you can get over the ingrained idea that a pickle is a cucumber and realize that vinegar and seafood are like Frida and her eyebrow(s) you’ll find it’s actually a strange and magical pairing.