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Shrimp, Scallops and Hot Dogs!
By Bob Alexander

I couldn't wait to get home; at least back to the house on the beach I was calling home for the week. I was hungry and the evening sky had just turned that amazing color of purple you see just before the sun disappears behind the horizon for the night. After spending the day fishing in the bay side of the island for speckled trout, I was anxious to get back and fire up the grill for some steak and salad. It was my turn to cook for the family!

Each year in June, our scattered family all migrate to a chosen location; the destination determined at last year's reunion. Renting suitable housing for a week can be rather expensive if you want to stay at a seaside home or condominium unless you split that cost over six or seven families. This year's pilgrimage was to be at St. George Island on the Apalachicola Bay in northwest Florida.

Stopping at the fish market on my way home from fishing all day, I was looking for something for tonight's meal. I wasn't going to buy fish and pretend I had caught them; I'd caught my limit of those today. If you can't catch a fish on St. George Island, you're stupid. That's what the tackle store owner told me the first day of my vacation. He was right. You would have to have been an idiot not to catch something where I had been fishing that morning.

I drove across the bridge to the small fishing town of East Point where the fishing boats tie up. I was looking for fresh shrimp, just off the boat. When you're taking your vacation on the ocean, you have to have seafood. That's a law down here in Florida. There was a little store just across the street from the dock that boasted the sign, "Fresh Fish". It was a small store with a counter behind which offered seafood of various types all covered in ice.

There were trays filled with mullet, pompano, grouper, red snapper, shrimp, oysters and scallops. They also had frozen containers of seafood gumbo which is a staple on the coast. It's said that babies down here are weaned on gumbo.

There's nothing quite as tasty as shrimp cooked over the barbeque grill. After buying three pounds of jumbo shrimp, the bay scallops were calling my name, so I bought three pounds of those also. I stopped at a grocery store to get wieners for the kids. When they grow up they can have shrimp and scallops too. Hopefully all this would be enough to feed the crowd that was waiting back at the houses we had rented.

Back at the house, while waiting for the charcoal to get just the right shade of gray, the shrimp and the scallops were marinating in a mixture I have made many times without ever a complaint. I could hear the mullet jumping in the bay as we relaxed to the music of old Willie's honky tonk songs.

To make up a marinade for 6 pounds of seafood, I started off with a quarter cup of olive oil, a half cup of butter, two teaspoons of salt, two tablespoons of pepper , about 6 tablespoons of finely chopped parsley, a half cup of finely chopped garlic, a little paprika and a quarter cup of lemon juice. Mix all this together and heat. Bring all this to a boil and let simmer for about 30 minutes before letting the shrimp and scallops marinate. It may be wise to increase the amount of the ingredients so the guests will have some for dipping the shrimp and scallops.

When the charcoal is of a medium heat, lay the shrimp and scallops on the grill. The jumbo shrimp are large enough so that you won't need to use a skewer unless you prefer them cooked with one. If you want skewers, use two instead of one for the shrimp so they won't slide and spin around on the stick when you flip them over to cook the other side.

Leaving the shell on the shrimp seems to make it more flavorful and appears to prevent them from drying out, but you can peel them if you like. Cook until the meat is white and take them off; usually 6-8 minutes total. Some folks use a pair of small scissors to cut along the top of the shell to devein the shrimp before putting them on the grill. I tried it and I came to the conclusion that it was easier to remove the shrimp after they were cooked.

The scallops are done when they are no longer translucent. Keep some of the marinade on the table for dipping into the buttery sauce. The ladies had fixed up the side dishes that were ready by the time the seafood was. It was quite a meal!

Bob Alexander is well experienced in outdoor cooking, holiday eating and leisure living. Bob is also the author and owner of this article. Visit his sites at: http://www.bluemarlinbob.com and http://www.bobalexander.ws