Shrimp Burgers ala Holden Beach

I’ve had shrimp po’ boys in New Orleans, all along the gulf coast, couple of places in Charleston, SC, and several joints around Morehead City and Beaufort, NC. On every occasion they have been, to some lesser or greater degree, wonderful.

The common factors have been, first, they’re made of shrimp (shrimp is a good thing) and second, the small shrimp are individually dipped in batter or rolled in seasoned flour and deep-fried. Then piled on a hoagie roll, topped with a sauce, a little slaw or lettuce, and enjoyed and appreciated as something you just can’t get back home in Ohio.

Today, I met a new kind of shrimp burger. An honest to God, genuine shrimp burger. A patty of whole and coarsely ground shrimp, held together with Parmesan cheese , and grilled just like you would grill a hamburger.

This style of shrimp burger could be unique to Southeastern North Carolina,  specifically Holden Beach. In talking to locals several mentioned I shouldn’t leave without trying a local shrimp burger. The most recommended restaurant was a waterfront place called the Provision Company. It’s an open-air restaurant-bar, sitting on stilts, and overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway almost under the high-rise causeway that crosses over to Holden Beach.

The Provision Company has a great breeze, great view of the Intracoastal, and several nearby shrimp boats and seafood companies gave hope that what you’re eating wasn’t raised in a polluted Vietnamese farm pond.

While I wouldn’t drive to Holden Beach just for one of their shrimp burgers (I did drive to TX once for some BBQ), I certainly wouldn’t hesitate to enjoy one if I were in the area. Regarding the Provision Company’s version, I give it three pluses and one negative. On the plus side was flavor, freshness, and a nice roumalade sauce. The sandwich was garnished with lettuce, pickle, tomato and onion but I opted for only the onion.

The negative was the bun. First with a sandwich this special, and costing slightly more than a dollar burger at McDonald’s, the bun was just a regular old nondescript hamburger bun. Furthermore, it wasn’t steamed, nuked or toasted to freshen it up a little. Just a mid-afternoon, headed for day-old, cold, common, damned old cheap burger bun. Probably didn’t even build strong bodies 12-ways!

I ask the gal at the cash register how they bound the shrimp together and all she would say was Parmesan cheese. I was told they used no binders other than cheese. She said everyone wants the recipe but they won’t give it out. Well, I don’t need no freakin’ recipe, mon! Armed with the cheese info, I can take it from there and possibly even improve on it. For example, a little Crystal brand hot sauce and finely diced sweet red pepper couldn’t but help, served on a decent bun, of course.

Now, I’m already thinking, fish burger, crab burger, clam burger, lobster burger, scallop burger, hot dog burger… yeah, that’s it, hot dog burger. I’ll be famous!

NOTE: My son, Mike, ate at the Provision Company the day before and had the crab cake sandwich. At first he rated it below average then after reconsidering, changed it to average. The reason being, he and I once had crab cakes in a local crab shack on Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay that set the standard by which all others are judged. Those cakes were so above average neither of us really knows what average is.

12 thoughts on “Shrimp Burgers ala Holden Beach”

  1. We love Provisions Shrimp Burger. When we first asked what was in it (not being sure we wanted to try one) we were told shrimp and parm cheese that they formed into patties which were then marinated. Of course, they wouldn’t tell us what they marinated them in. Would love to try your recipe. A year between Provisions shrimpburgers seems like an eternity.

  2. Thanks Larry, I’m going to try it this week. I have a turkey breast in the crockpot right now, I may or may not make the burgers tonight.

  3. I loved the shrimp burger at the Provo- didn’t mind the bun, but at home, of course, I would use something better. Can you give out YOUR recipe? It’s been two years since I was in HB, and I can;t stop thinking about that shrimp burger! Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Leigh,

      While I don’t have a recipe for the Prov.’s shrimp burger I wouldn’t hesitate to make up my own. Like I mentioned in the piece, the patty contained both whole and chopped shrimp. I did ask the waitress what they used for a binder and she said, “just shredded Parmesan cheese.” Myself, I think I’d add a little flower and an egg to the mixture, along with some finely chopped onion and celery, and form it into patties. A basic remoulade sauce is just mayonnaise with a little mustard, hot sauce, garlic, paprika and Cajun seasoning.

      Thanks for bringing up this article, it made me remember I had some frozen shrimp that needs attention. Shrimp burgers, ala a Holden Beach, are not on the menu for next week! I’ll report back on how it turns out.

  4. Great Idea Everyone!
    Why not plan well ahead for sometime in 2012 and everyone from Greenfield or Ex Pats like myself meet at AB!

  5. Chilli Pepper’s in Kill Devil Hills has a Oyster Po’ Boy with a queso sauce that is ungodly. Then there’s the Fried Oysters at Awful Arthur’s, the Lobster & Bacon Mac ‘n’ Cheese at Firefly’s, the the Clam Chowder at Mako Mike’s . . . oh, and the Cajun Crawfish Gumbo at Tortugas Lie is amazing. Damn, I’m hungry now.

    1. Lobster & bacon mac ‘n cheese….this could only sound better if you said Firefly’s scooped out a serving, formed it into a patty, rolled it in seasoned flour, and deep fried it till attaining a golden crust.

  6. May I suggest that if for any reason any of you are at Atlantic Beach, NC then you must go to the “Four Corners Diner”. They have the best shrimp burgers and a very different homemade clam chowder. It is more of a soup base than the New England style. It is a diner that is difficult to get into when the vacationers and locals alike are awake, so GO EARLY!
    You will also be suprised to hear a Bostonian calling for seating arrangements.
    We vacation at Atlantic every summer and I also recommend the Sand Dollar Motel. They have regular rooms and efficiencies as well.

    o for some FISH TACOS they are GREAT!

    1. We’ve vacationed in Atlantic Beach many times. My sister in law’s family once owned a small home and we were permitted to spend a week there every summer until they sold it in the 90s. Since then we have been going to the Emerald Isle part of Bogue Island until this year when we picked Holden Beach. I was at AB and EI in May of this year and will probably be back there for some fishing within the next several months. Great area and I’ll take you up on the restaurant recommendation. Thanks.

  7. Dang! I wish you’d open a restaurant and put your “spashul” recipe shrimp burger on the menu. I’d try one!
    Been to Holden Beach many-a-time but have never tried the Provision Company but I will definitely put it on my to-do list next visit.

    1. We’ve been hearing about HB for years but this was our visit. My wife told me there were probably another thirty Greenfielders vacationing there during our week. I did run into Derek Johnson on the beach and Doug Mustard at the pier. I liked the laid back, non-commercial, environment. All the reasons I hate Myrtle Beach.

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