The Gullah are descendants of Central African slaves whom worked and lived on the coast of North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. They were at one time, spread from Jacksonville, Florida to Cape Fear, North Carolina. In 2006, the National Park Service established the Gullah/Geechee cultural heritage corridor to preserve and recognize their contributions to American culture. They are still large communities in South Carolina and the Georgia Sea Islands. Their isolation to the coast and the Sea Islands actually helped to preserve their language and traditions. The Gullahs are the other Creoles. The more popularly known Creoles in Louisiana developed from the same conditions and influences that helped to form the Gullah culture. When it comes to food the ingredients and preparation methods are strikingly similar as well as they share a taste for okra, rice, and hot peppers.
Gullah cuisine was known for being cooked outside in large pots and eaten communally. When I experienced this dish, the shrimp boil was dumped on a newspaper-lined table and every one stood and ate. As many Gullah recipes there are, no measurements and the instructions are passed down verbally. Here is my adaptation from a Gullah descendant whom is a friend of the family, thanks Flo.
Low Country Seafood Boil adapted from verbal recipe of Florence Simmons by Joseph V. Fasy
1/4 lb. Smoked Sausage per person
1/2 pound raw shrimp, head on, in shell per person
1-2 Blue crabs per person
3 each Red bliss potatoes per person
1 Ear of corn per person
4 onions peeled whole
2 teaspoons Cayenne pepper
8 cloves Garlic
8 Bay leaves
4 Tablespoons Old Bay Seasoning
1 teaspoon Black pepper
Tabasco, to taste
- Boil water in a large kettle on stove or outdoor cooker. Season water with salt and above flavorings along with the juice of 2 lemons; or 2 tablespoons of vinegar.
- Add potatoes and cook for 10 minutes.
- Add sausage and onions. Bring back to a boil.
- When potatoes are almost tender, add corn and crabs. Bring to a boil, and then add shrimp. Cook a few minutes until shrimp are just done – they will be pink in color.
- Drain and pour into a basket or onto platters. Have cocktail sauce and Tabasco on hand.
Traditional Red Rice adapted from a verbal recipe of Florence Simmons by Joseph V. Fasy
5 slices bacon or side meat
2 cups rice
3/4 cup chopped onion
2 cups canned tomatoes, crushed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon hot sauce
In a 10-inch cast iron skillet, cook bacon and reserve grease. Crumble bacon and set aside.
- Fry onions in reserved bacon drippings until tender.
- Add tomatoes, rice, salt, pepper, and bacon. Cook on low heat for 30-40 minutes, stirring and adding water as needed.
- Add hot sauce and serve.