Growing up in Charleston, pickled shrimp seems like one of those obvious foods. It's probably because both shrimp and pickling are such a way of life. But in NYC I haven't seen it as much, and its a real shame because it's such an easy option.
See, while it might seem like pickling something is difficult, this recipe actually proves the opposite. This is something you make ahead and then just throw together when you need it. It can be served cold, which makes it doubly simple. I made this recipe as a passed hors d'oeuvre recently and it was the recipe everyone asked for the most.
So this is my version and I'm not going to pretend it is complicated. This does not have 20 different herbs and spices pretending to infuse the shrimp with something. It's just a good ole fashioned pickled shrimp that is easy to make and even easier to eat.
2 lbs shrimp, peeled (although you can leave tails on for presentation if you'd like)
1 large Vidalia onion
1 cup olive oil
1 1/2 cups cider vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
Bring a pot of heavily salted water to boil. Add the shrimp and cook for two minutes, or until just barely cooked. Immediately place in an ice bath or under running cold water.
Dice the onion and then cut the lemons into thin slices. Combine the onion, lemons, olive oil, vinegar, salt and cayenne in a large bowl. Add in the shrimp - if they aren't fully coated you can add more olive oil. Cover and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours, stirring occassionally. To serve, rinse off the shrimp. You can chop up the onions to serve alongside the shrimp if you'd like. Serve cold