No doubt about it, we’re on a shrimp jag, with back-to-back weeks devoted to our favorite crustacean. That’s easy to do in the Lowcountry.
Fudgy Brabham of Mount Pleasant remembers the fried shrimp served by the old LaBrasca’s restaurant, and would love to have the recipe. He says they were not heavily battered and somehow seem to have been imparted with a lemon flavor. “Sensational,” he says.
Well, Fudgy, I tried to contact family members that I had spoken to in the past but got a wrong number and another that wouldn’t go through.
Still, readers responded with recipes offering a touch of lemon.
First, however, is a quick look back at LaBrasca’s for all the new folks in town. Almost every small town or city in the USA has a LaBrasca’s: a favorite local restaurant from years ago that people still reminisce about.
In Charleston’s case, one of them was LaBrasca’s Spaghetti House on upper King Street across from County Hall (now apartments).
For 32 years, the family-run eatery served up American, Italian and Chinese fare, quite an eclectic mix for Charleston at the time.
From what I’ve heard and read, LaBrasca’s was a meeting place as much as a restaurant. It offered a familial intimacy that’s becoming more precious in today’s chain-populated world.
We’re still hoping the family will see this column and be in touch. In the meantime, Isabel Beach of Summerville sent a copy of a recipe she cut out of this newspaper in 1978 that she says is “pretty good.”
Shrimp and Flounder Batter
Enough for 3 to 4 pounds seafood
11/2 cups all-purpose flour
11/2 cups cornstarch
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon garlic powder
11/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon monosodium glutamate, or MSG (optional)
Juice from 4 fresh lemons
1/2 to 1 cup whole milk
Peanut oil and basket for deep frying
Editor’s note: Be extremely careful when deep frying with hot oil to avoid risk of burning oneself from sputtering or steam. Do not let water into the hot fat or use water to cool, or clean the appliance while food is deep-frying.
Combine dry ingredients. Beat together lemon juice and eggs, and fold into dry mixture. Add sufficient milk and beat to a thin batter consistency. (Slight thinner than pancake batter.) Batter may be used immediately or placed in refrigerator, so more milk may need to be added.
Pour oil in a pot no higher than 2 to 3 inches from the top. Heat to 360 or 370 degrees. Use a candy thermometer for accuracy.
Dip shrimp or flounder fingers into batter and allow to drain slightly. About 12 shrimp can be placed in the basket without overcrowding.
Deep fry for 1 to 11/2 minutes until golden brown. Separate individual shrimp using a cooking fork and tongs.
This is what Sharon Cook of Charleston has to say about making lemony fried shrimp:
“Adding 1 tablespoon lemon zest to any favorite breading for fried shrimp will impart a lemon zing to the finished product.
“The same results can be achieved by adding lemon zest to tempura batter or by substituting 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice for 1/4 cup of the ice water that is used to make tempura batter for frying shrimp.
This will give the end product a light lemon touch without overpowering the flavor. Of course, using only the freshest local shrimp is a must!”
In further tribute to LaBrasca’s, I pulled this recipe from the newspaper’s archives to share again:
1 pound boiled, peeled and chopped shrimp
1/2 to 2 cups diced celery
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 cup Hellmann’s Relish Sandwich Spread
Mix ingredients together and serve on a bed of iceberg lettuce, garnished with green bell pepper rings and green, pimiento-stuffed Spanish olives.
Who’s got the recipe?
A caller from James Island is looking for good, meatless breakfast casseroles.
An office colleague is interested in recipes for lower-calorie apple desserts.
Reach Features Editor Teresa Taylor at food@postand courier.com or 937-4886.