Seafood Boils on the Outer Banks bring people together...
Seafood Boils are All About the Family
There’s nothing efficient about eating a seafood boil. Cracking open crabs and lobsters and peeling the shells off of shrimp takes time. Each delicious bite of fresh, spicy seafood comes at considerable effort and no small amount of mess. A typical seafood boil will see a newspaper-covered table strewn with the wreckage of corn cobs and shells, all dripping with butter and broth. Equally messy, are the folks gathered around the table, sitting or standing as they lick their fingers and reach for the next crab. There’s no plates, no rush, and no portioning.
Just family, friends, and neighbors taking their time sharing some laughs, cold beer, and the best seafood the Outer Banks has to offer.
Some History on the Seafood Boil
Accounts vary over the invention of the seafood boil, but the man most often credited is Richard Gay, a National Guardsman hailing from a little island fishing village in South Carolina called Frogmore. Tasked with feeding his entire unit, Richard boiled up a big pot of smoked sausage, corn, red potatoes, shrimp with the shells left on the preserve the flavor, and plenty of spicy seasoning— an old family recipe he dubbed Frogmore Stew.
Other names and regional variants abound.
- Further up the east coast slices of citrus fruit and Creole-style mirepoix— a mixture of onions, celery, and bell peppers, are added to the boil for flavor.
- Down south in Louisiana you’ll usually find crawdads thrown into the mix, and they’ll pass up the Old Bay in favor of Rex or Slap Yo Mama.
- Here on the Outer Banks, seafood boils might contain imported favorites like lobster tails and king crab legs. But the real hero of the Outer Banks boil is what comes right off the docks— blue crabs, shrimp, and clams. Buy them by sack full at one of the local seafood markets and put it together yourself, or get your boil ready made from a restaurant by take out or delivery.
Either way, your boil should be eaten at home— preferably in a backyard in fair weather surrounded by good company.
Sharing a feast of food plucked from the ocean with your neighbors harkens back to the community spirit that’s always been a part of the Outer Banks. Back before there were roads and bridges to the island, the people here survived by relying on each other. Homes were built and rebuilt with the help of neighbors and scraps washed up on the beach.
People who fell on hard times could always count on their community to lend a bushel of firewood or a gallon of kerosene. And if you had food to share, you shared it.
That tradition continues today with locals hosting backyard boils and visitors getting in on the fun by enjoying a leisurely, delicious meal with all their favorite people.
Lot’s of restaurants, markets, and caterers on the Outer Banks offer seafood boils by take out or catering. You can find the best Outer Banks Seafood Boils here.