What is Calabash Style Seafood

What is Calabash Style Seafood?

North Carolina prides itself on the recipe because it always brings tourists back to it and helps to spread the word about its culture and seafood cuisine. That explains why many people all around the world want to know more about this particular cooking style. So, what is Calabash style seafood?

In this article, we will focus on this particular seafood delicacy. You will learn what it is, where it comes from, the original recipe, and what goes best with this dish.

What is Calabash Style Seafood?
Source: shutterstock.com / Photo Contributor: gowithstock

What is Calabash Style Seafood?

The Calabash-style dish got its name from the small fishing town of Calabash in North Carolina. The recipe spread fast around the U.S. and became one of the dishes widely accepted by many, especially among seafood foodies.

Another interesting characteristic of the Calabash-style seafood is that it’s served in a buffet style. Confused about what is Calabash seafood buffet? To reflect the true Calabash style, similar to traditional buffets, Calabash seafood is served in large amounts. When it comes to serving, the shrimp prepared in Calabash style go best with a glass of beer or white wine.

The Original Calabash Style Seafood Recipe

The original Calabash style is also known as the popcorn shrimp. People call it this way because the shrimp are small, fried, and powdered in corn flour. Once ready, they are crispy, just like popcorn.


  • Oil 
  • Cornflour
  • Salt, and pepper
  • Evaporated milk

This is the classic recipe. You can add other seasonings like paprika, chili, or garlic if that is what you prefer. 


  1. To prepare the dish, you need to clean the shrimp first. 
  2. Then, add the milk to the shrimp just enough to cover them all. Usually, ¼ cup of evaporated milk would suffice. 
  3. Heat the oil and prepare it for deep-fry.
  4. Put a cup of flour and ½ spoon of salt in a large bowl or deep container. Take out a few shrimps and put them in the flour. 
  5. Toss the shrimp around until they are fully coated. 
  6. Once done, put them in the oil and deep fry them for 1-2 minutes until they reach a caramel color.

This is the classic recipe. You can add other seasonings like paprika, chili, or garlic if that is what you prefer. Fresh seafood (frozen shrimps also work well, but to reach that specific taste, you need to learn how to defrost the seafood properly).

What goes best with Calabash style seafood?

Although Calabash shrimp come as an appetizer with a cold beer or a glass of white dry wine, you can turn them into a main dish with a few simple side dishes. 

Since they are deep-fried, the best way to enhance the taste is to add boiled veggies. You can never go wrong with corn on a cob, boiled potatoes with a hint of white onion and vinegar, or coleslaw. Additionally, you can refresh the deep-fried course with a fresh seasonal salad. Try it and thank us later.

What goes best with Calabash style seafood
Source: shutterstock.com / Photo Contributor: gowithstock


Reunions with friends, family gatherings, or just cozy dinner dates are synonyms with the Calabash shrimps in North Carolina. When prepared by an experienced chef, they are the best appetizer that will get your mouth watering at the thought of it and make you come back for more.

To conclude, what is Calabash-style seafood? It’s a simple dish of deep-fried oysters, shrimp, crabs, or other seafood, as tasty and contagious as popcorn. They are the best appetizer for a good company. 

However, although the Calabash style seafood falls into the category of starters, you can still turn it into a main course by pairing it with some boiled veggies.