I’ve had shrimp po’ boys in New Orleans, all along the gulf coast, couple of places in Charleston, SC, and several joints around Morehead City and Beaufort, NC. On every occasion they have been, to some lesser or greater degree, wonderful.
The common factors have been, first, they’re made of shrimp (shrimp is a good thing) and second, the small shrimp are individually dipped in batter or rolled in seasoned flour and deep-fried. Then piled on a hoagie roll, topped with a sauce, a little slaw or lettuce, and enjoyed and appreciated as something you just can’t get back home in Ohio.
Today, I met a new kind of shrimp burger. An honest to God, genuine shrimp burger. A patty of whole and coarsely ground shrimp, held together with Parmesan cheese , and grilled just like you would grill a hamburger.
This style of shrimp burger could be unique to Southeastern North Carolina, specifically Holden Beach. In talking to locals several mentioned I shouldn’t leave without trying a local shrimp burger. The most recommended restaurant was a waterfront place called the Provision Company. It’s an open-air restaurant-bar, sitting on stilts, and overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway almost under the high-rise causeway that crosses over to Holden Beach.
The Provision Company has a great breeze, great view of the Intracoastal, and several nearby shrimp boats and seafood companies gave hope that what you’re eating wasn’t raised in a polluted Vietnamese farm pond.
While I wouldn’t drive to Holden Beach just for one of their shrimp burgers (I did drive to TX once for some BBQ), I certainly wouldn’t hesitate to enjoy one if I were in the area. Regarding the Provision Company’s version, I give it three pluses and one negative. On the plus side was flavor, freshness, and a nice roumalade sauce. The sandwich was garnished with lettuce, pickle, tomato and onion but I opted for only the onion.
The negative was the bun. First with a sandwich this special, and costing slightly more than a dollar burger at McDonald’s, the bun was just a regular old nondescript hamburger bun. Furthermore, it wasn’t steamed, nuked or toasted to freshen it up a little. Just a mid-afternoon, headed for day-old, cold, common, damned old cheap burger bun. Probably didn’t even build strong bodies 12-ways!
I ask the gal at the cash register how they bound the shrimp together and all she would say was Parmesan cheese. I was told they used no binders other than cheese. She said everyone wants the recipe but they won’t give it out. Well, I don’t need no freakin’ recipe, mon! Armed with the cheese info, I can take it from there and possibly even improve on it. For example, a little Crystal brand hot sauce and finely diced sweet red pepper couldn’t but help, served on a decent bun, of course.
Now, I’m already thinking, fish burger, crab burger, clam burger, lobster burger, scallop burger, hot dog burger… yeah, that’s it, hot dog burger. I’ll be famous!
NOTE: My son, Mike, ate at the Provision Company the day before and had the crab cake sandwich. At first he rated it below average then after reconsidering, changed it to average. The reason being, he and I once had crab cakes in a local crab shack on Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay that set the standard by which all others are judged. Those cakes were so above average neither of us really knows what average is.