Shrimp recipe: Frogmore Stew (South Carolina shrimp boil)

In late June and early July of 2003, we vacationed in the South Carolina Lowcountry, staying in Beaufort and visiting Charleston, as well as Savannah, Georgia.

One of the meals we ate on the trip and have made many times since is a shrimp recipe called “Frogmore Stew.” It’s not a typical stew at all, but instead a type of seafood boil — also known as a Lowcountry Boil, a Beaufort Boil or Beaufort Stew, according to Wikipedia.

Steamer Oyster & Steakhouse on Lady's Island, Beaufort, South Carolina

The version we had was served at the Steamer Oyster & Steakhouse located about five miles west of Frogmore on Sea Island Parkway.

Amy Czerniec eats Frogmore Stew at the Steamer Oyster & Steakhouse, Beaufort, South CarolinaThe Beaufort County Library maintains an interesting page about their Lowcountry food specialties which cites Beaufort historian Gerhard Spieler‘s judgment in dating the dish no earlier than the 1940s based on the type of sausage used, and Richard Gay of Gay Seafood Company as claiming its invention in about 1951. Gay says the Steamer was the first restaurant to serve it.

Although most local versions of this shrimp recipe call for a smoked beef sausage such as kielbasa, we have spiced it up a little with a supermarket andouille. We also prefer buttery Yukon Gold potatoes to the red potatoes/new potatoes normally called for, and we add sweet onions and malt liquor (some say beer eases peeling, but we just like the flavor).

Frogmore Stew

  • 40 ounces of cheap, strong beer — such as Mickey’s Fine Malt Liquor
  • 5 quarts water
  • 1/4 cup Old Bay Seasoning
  • 2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into sixths
  • 4 ears fresh sweet corn, shucked and quartered
  • 2 large onions (about a pound and a half), each peeled and cut into 10 wedges
  • 1 Klement’s 14 ounce Andouille Sausage Loop (or kielbasa), cut into inch-and-a-half segments
  • 2 pounds shell-on, easy-peel deveined shrimp, thawed
  • salt, to taste
  • fresh lemon juice, if desired
  • Crystal Hot Sauce, if desired (another non-native, Louisiana twist we just love)

1. Combine the beer and water in a very large stock pot with the Old Bay Seasoning and bring to a gently rolling boil. Add the potatoes and cook 15 minutes, or until they just begin to turn tender.

2. Add the corn and cook 5 minutes more. Add the onions and sausage and cook 10 minutes more.

3. Add the shrimp and cook 3-5 minutes, just until pink and opaque. Then immediately empty the whole pot into a colander in the sink to drain. Season with salt, maybe a little extra Old Bay, and squeeze lemon juice all over, if desired.

4. Serve with napkins and a bottle of Crystal Hot Sauce. Plates are optional. This is food to be peeled and eaten with your fingers. In the Lowcountry, this boil is often dumped onto a newspaper-covered table with a bucket for corn cobs and shrimp shells. Beer is the recommended beverage.

Serves 6-8.

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