I’m sure there are a thousand different ways of boiling shrimp. I’ve done it several different ways myself, and it’s usually very good. The trick is to avoid overcooking. I adapted this method from The Frank Davis Seafood Notebook (Pelican Publishing Company; Gretna, 1988). Frank Davis is considered by Chef Paul Prudhomme to be a “number-one authority on cooking and eating the fresh fish and game of Louisiana.”
4 gallons of water
2 small onions; coarsely chopped
1 head of garlic; coarsely chopped
5 lemons; sliced
2 sticks of celery sliced
6 bay leaves
2 tablespoons Bay Seafood Seasoning (or other good crab boil)
1 teaspoon cayenne
2 pounds wild gulf shrimp (headless)
4 cups of ice
Add all the seasonings to the pot of water and bring to a boil for 10 minutes. Add shrimp. The water should stop boiling; when it returns to a boil, set timer for 2 minutes. Begin testing shrimp at about 1 1/2 minutes. When done (1 1/2 to 3 minutes), remove from fire and pour in as much ice as you can spare.
Allow shrimp to soak in seasoned water and ice for at least 15 minutes. For more pronounced flavor, allow to soak for 30-45 minutes or even longer. Sample every 5 minutes or so during the soaking period. When happy with the flavor, drain off the water and serve.