Calabash. Is it a town, a vegetable or a style of cooking? Well . . . . .. . . . how about all 3! North Carolina is well-known for the wonderful seafood caught in our coastal waters and the small town that boasts the name of Calabash touts itself as “the seafood capital of the world”. This small town inspired the name and style of cooking known as Calabash. The town actually acquired its name from the vegetable that is grown in the area. . . . . . . a gourd. Residents long ago used to dry the gourds and use them as drinking vessels and in the 1930′s the town of approximately 700 residents became known for its fabulous fried seafood known as Calabash-style.
Calabash-style seafood is a favorite across the coast of North Carolina. There are many restaurants serving this wonderful treat typically buffet style. To be considered Calabash-style it has to be lightly breaded and quickly fried. It sometimes has an underlying spice that does not overpower the batter. I think a wonderful addition to this batter would be a few drops of North Carolina’s own Texas Pete Hot Sauce. Delicious! Calabash-style seafood is typically accompanied by hushpuppies, coleslaw and fries.
For those of you who want to have a Calabash feast at home here is an easy recipe.
2 tablespoons flour
1/3 cup bread crumbs
1/3 cup cornmeal
2 teaspoons water
Combine the flour and cornmeal and place on a plate. Place the bread crumbs on another plate. Scramble the egg with a little water (about 2 teaspoons); this makes the egg lighter. Rinse the seafood off and pat dry. Dip the seafood in the egg, then cornmeal mix, then egg mix and lastly bread crumbs. Fry the seafood until golden brown (fish filets take about 3 minutes each side). Serve with your favorite cocktail sauce, tartar sauce or Texas Pete.