I’ve lived in the South all my life, but I’d never heard of shrimp burgers until I read about them in “The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook.” Apparently, they’re a popular menu item in Southern shrimping towns, especially ones in Georgia and the Carolinas. Since I still haven’t been able to talk Jeff into trying shrimp and grits, I thought these shrimp burgers might make a fine gateway drug.

If you’ve ever made crab cakes, the process for shrimp burgers will seem very familiar. However, when you’re making crab cakes, you sauté staples like onions and peppers before combining them with the crab and other ingredients. This shrimp burger recipe calls for the raw scallions, corn kernels, parsley, ginger and lemon zest to be added to the shrimp and refrigerated before frying. When you first bite into the burger, you’ll notice that the flavors are very bright, especially the ginger and lemon zest. They really complement the shrimp and help turn the sandwich into a seafood experience rather than just a burger alternative.

Try these burgers on toasted hamburger buns with a little lettuce and tartar or cocktail sauce. Or, if you’re feeding a crowd, you can make smaller patties and turn these burgers into shrimp sliders served in toasted dinner rolls. As for sides, we kept things simple and ate some of the leftover corn-on-the-cob jazzed up with a squeeze of lime, but the burgers also would go nicely with coleslaw, sweet potato fries, cucumber salad, or sliced tomatoes with salt and pepper and a little balsamic vinegar.

Shrimp Burgers

Adapted from Matt Lee and Ted Lee’s “The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook”

Serves 4

  • 2 quarts water
  • 1 recipe Lee Bros. Shrimp Boil (recipe below)
  • 1 pound headless large shrimp (26-30 per pound), shells on
  • 2 tablespoons chopped scallions
  • 1/4 cup fresh corn kernels, cut from the cob (about 1/2 ear)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 cup bread crumbs, preferably fresh (from about 2 slices bread)
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Pepper vinegar to taste (optional)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
  1. In a 3-quart saucepan, bring the water and shrimp boil just to a boil over high heat. Turn off the heat, add shrimp, and let stand until they are pink, about 2 minutes. Drain and run under cold water. Peel and devein the shrimp, and chop it coarsely.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the shrimp, scallions, corn, parsley, ginger and lemon zest. Stir in the mayo and bread crumbs, and season with salt, pepper and pepper vinegar. Gently fold the egg into the mixture.
  3. Shape the mixture into 4 patties. Wrap the patties in plastic wrap, and refrigerate them for at least 30 minutes.
  4. Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high. Remove the burgers from the fridge, unwrap them, and gently add them to the pan. Sauté until both sides are browned, about 3 minutes per side. Drain on a plate lined with a paper towel.
  5. Serve on toasted hamburger buns with lettuce, thinly sliced Vidalia onion and tartar sauce.

Lee Bros. Shrimp Boil

Makes 1 scant cup

  • 1 tablespoon peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon celery seeds
  • 6 bay leaves, shredded with scissors
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons ground cayenne pepper

Using a mortar and pestle, pound the peppercorns, celery seeds, bay leaves and salt, in batches if necessary. Place the mixture in a small bowl, and add cayenne.