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Cuisine: Shrimp & Peaches Pair Perfectly for Summer

Jun 17 2014

by Anna Ferguson Hall

The summer solstice officially kicks off on June 21, and in Georgia, this season is basically the very best time of year to be in the state. Minus the gnats and the mosquitoes, the smothering humidity and the looming hot-weather/freezing-room head cold that is sure to hit thanks to the overabundance of frigid A/C. If you can get past those factors and a few more minor annoyances, then yes, summer is the best of times in Georgia.

Most decidedly, it is the best time to eat in Georgia, tapping the large supply of seasonal Georgia-grown goods. It’s known as The Peach State, with good reason. The fuzzy fruit drop downs from trees throughout the summer months, bringing to our lips that sweet, rich goodness only home-grown produce can generate.

But then, we all already knew the state offers a surplus peach supply. Perhaps lesser known throughout the south is Georgia’s abundance of shrimp. It’s a piece of information I (and my stomach) have come to hold very dear in coastal Georgia. As often as I can support the state’s shrimpers, I try to do so, often for the selfish reason of eating the goods, but whatever. Help is help, right?

Recently, I sat down with a chef in Darien, who can whip up just about any amazing dish upon request. It has become wildly rumored (and truthfully rumored, to boot) that Jessica Medlock is the go-to gal for all-around culinary triumph in Darien, McIntosh County and the whole of the Golden Isles. Medlock is executive chef at Sapelo Station, one of the coast as favorite spots for local seafood and home-cooked plates of pleasure.

For years, Medlock has been the central figure of culinary genius in the region, and most recently moved into the kitchen at Sapelo Station, located on Highway 17 just north of the Eulonia intersection. She has crafted a new, extensive menu, decides on daily specials, tweaks recipes as needed and, in general, keeps the restaurant moving forward.

So when I was looking for a local chef to craft summer shrimp recipes made of Georgia’s favorite ingredients- shrimp and peaches- I knew who to call.

Medlock graciously stepped up to task, spending days of research to develop the perfect two Georgia-based shrimp dishes. (Note: I only asked for one, and she put in that extra oomph to make an even more special experience. She’s that kind of chef.)

The end result is phenomenal, and can be replicated at home for your next summer cookout, block party or just for a family dinner. The first, a Shrimp and Peach Kabob, is a light take on summer fare, tapping only fresh produce and local shrimp, with a light dusting of seasonings and pairing of peach-chili dipping sauce.

This kabob recipe does not specify serving sizes, as that will vary depending on occasion. It’s pretty simple: if cooking for a large crowd, use more ingredients, in proportion; if it’s a smaller gathering, use less, just keep it in proportion, as well.

Recipe No. 2, a Beer-Battered Coconut Shrimp dish, presents plenty of island-inspired pizzazz to transport diners to dreams of tropical getaways. The recipe is divided into two parts, with step one being the Dredge, and step two for the Batter. This version is based on six to 12 shrimp; the recipe serving sizes can be adjusted proportionally as needed.

Summer is here y’all- get hungry!

Shrimp & Peach Kabob

“This recipe is ideal for grilling out in the summer,” Medlock said. “Plus, it pairs perfectly with a margarita.”

1 pack bamboo wooden skewers

Shrimp, amount as desired

Peaches, at least 2, sliced

Sweet Chili Peach Sauce (can be found at the Peach Store in Eulonia)

Onions (any variety)

Pinch of Cumin

Pinch of Cayenne Pepper

Pinch of Chili Powder

Pinch of Paprika

Limes, several slices

  1. Soak wooden skewers in cold water for 30 minutes before using. Preheat grill.
  2. Mix cumin, cayenne pepper, chili powder and paprika. Set aside.
  3. Lace bamboo skewers with one shrimp, one peach slice, and one onion slice; continue to lace until skewer is full.
  4. Season both sides of skewers with spice mix, until coated to desired level of taste.
  5. Spray both sides with cooking spray or coat lightly with olive oil.
  6. Grill skewers for 3 to 5 minutes each side, until done.
  7. Squeeze with limes and serve with sweet peach chili sauce on the side.

Beer-Battered Coconut Shrimp

“This recipe is a favorite of mine,” Medlock said. “It’s not complicated, but it’s impressive to a crowd. You can bake it, too, if a fryer isn’t an option.”

Six to 12 shrimp

2/3 Cup Beer (a standard domestic or light version works well)

½ Cup Flour

1 Egg

1/3 Cup Coconut

Sweet Chili Peach Sauce (can be found at the Peach Store in Eulonia)

  1. Preheat fryer, or preheat oven to 350 degrees, depending on cooking method.
  2. For dredge, mix beer, flour, and egg; stir.
  3. For batter, mix flour and coconut.
  4. Holding shrimp by the tail, dunk shrimp in dredge, then roll in batter. Press the batter firmly to the shrimp to ensure the mix sticks.
  5. If using a fryer, fry shrimp in batches of three or six depending on space; fry for 2 to 3 minutes until crispy. If baking, bake in batches of 6 to 12 on a wax-lined cookie sheet for 10 to 12 minutes.
  6. Serve with sweet peach chili sauce for dipping.

About the Chef

Born and raised in McIntosh County, Sapelo Station Executive Chef and General Manager Jessica Medlock grew up with her hands busy in the kitchen. The oldest of five children, she was the one who helped out her mother when she took on night shifts.

By age 15, Medlock was working not only in her family kitchen, but also in the kitchens of many restaurants in the county, starting at Mudcat Charlie’s. Once old enough to be a server, she took the county by storm, making a name for herself as the girl who knew the hallowed chef spaces on the Georgia coast.

“I’ve always just loved being in the kitchen, with food, creating new things,” she said. “Food is a true art form. So much expression can be put there. Then, you get to eat it. It’s great.”

Now a mother of two young girls, Medlock, 29, spends her days off in other chef’s dining rooms- not kitchens- trying out new and classic restaurants throughout the region, while still balancing the mom act with some home-cooked meals tossed in for good measure.

“My oldest, she’s really a chicken nuggets, pizza and salad kind of gal,” Medlock said. “It’s pretty easy. And the baby, well, she’s only 7 months. She eats what I give her.”

Oh, and that coconut shrimp recipe she tossed into the aforementioned mix? Yeah, that’s her favorite.

“You’re either on team coconut, or you hate it. But I just love it,” she said. “The thing with cooking is, it’s a way to express not only yourself and your mood, but also the seasons and land around you. We’re so lucky here on the coast we have this great supply of fresh seafood, fresh produce. I loved creating these shrimp and peach dishes. We may even have to add them to our Sapelo menu.”

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