The author of the new cookbook, Gumbo Love, shares one of her best-loved recipes, just in time for one of our favorite holidays.

By Chris Hughes
May 09, 2017
Photo: Angie Mosier

There’s a moment in Lucy Buffett’s new cookbook, Gumbo Love, where she pauses to reflect on the Sunday evening meals of her childhood—a mandatory commitment in the Buffett family. Her father, possessing only a limited cooking repertoire, nonetheless took over all kitchen duties that night. And the centerpiece of his weekend spread, inevitably, was a platter of golden fried chicken, battered in a brown paper bag, and fried in a cast iron skillet with a dollop of Crisco. Sound simple? Buffett admits she’s been trying to replicate the results of that meal for decades now.

Lucy Buffett at her Key West home
Photo: Cedric Angeles

Lucy at her home in Key West; Photo: Cedric Angeles

It’s personal anecdotes like these, peppered throughout the book—along with tips and hard-worn wisdom on everything from oyster shucking to her philosophies on relaxation and gratitude—that truly set apart her sophomore effort. The owner of the beloved Lulu’s restaurants in Gulf Shores, Alabama, and Destin, Florida (and the little sister of Jimmy Buffett), Lucy presents over 100 new recipes incorporating elements of Caribbean, Cajun, Cuban, Mexican, and Old Florida cooking in this ode to the Gulf Coast. 

The follow-up to her wildly popular cookbook, Lulu’s Kitchen, Buffett’s latest proves an indispensible guide to the regional fare of the South’s Gulf-washed shores. Recipes include dishes like her Cuban-style shrimp creole, Acadian (Cajun) gumbo, honey-glazed sticky ribs, a Florida lobster salad with grapefruit and avocado, and our favorite, the spicy shrimp ceviche. Check out the recipe below, and make sure to pick up your copy of Gumbo Love, on sale on May 9.

Related: How to Make Lucy Buffett's Favorite Margarita:

Spicy Shrimp Ceviche

Serves 8


2 pounds poached wild-caught Gulf shrimp (recipe follows)
1/3 cup finely chopped red onion
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1 cup quartered cherry tomatoes
3/4 cup peeled, seeded, and chopped cucumber
1 teaspoon finely chopped seeded jalapeño
2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh ginger
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro, plus ¼ cup for serving, if desired
Juice of 5 limes (about 1 cup)
Juice of 2 lemons (about ½ cup)
Juice of 1 orange (about ½ cup)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 avocado, pitted, peeled, and sliced (optional)
2 limes, quartered (optional)


1. Chop the shrimp into thirds or bite-size pieces, or leave them whole if you prefer, and place in a large bowl.

2. Add the red onion, celery, tomatoes, cucumber, jalapeño, garlic, ginger, cilantro, lime juice, lemon juice, orange juice, olive oil, salt, white pepper, and sugar and stir well.

3. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate overnight. While the mixture marinates, occasionally turn the container to evenly coat the shrimp in the liquid.

4. Transfer the shrimp and liquid to a glass bowl to serve or divide among eight martini glasses. If desired, garnish with avocado, cilantro, and lime.

Poached Shrimp

Makes 2 pounds shrimp

I use this method to cook shrimp that have been peeled. It takes only a few minutes, so be careful not to overcook the shrimp. Poaching lets them absorb the flavors from the poaching liquid, which is called court bouillon in fancy French cooking and typically uses wine. Staying in step with my beloved Gulf Coastal Caribbean and Mexican influences, I use tequila or rum!


2¼ pounds large wild-caught headless Gulf shrimp in the shell
8 cups water
1/2 cup tequila or rum
1 lemon, sliced into rounds
1/2 white onion, coarsely chopped
6 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons sea salt
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
4 fresh cilantro sprigs


1. Peel and devein the shrimp. Keep refrigerated until ready to use.

2. Place the water in a large heavy skillet or saucepan. Add the tequila, lemon, onion, garlic, salt, peppercorns, and cilantro. Cover and bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil for 5 minutes.

3. Reduce the heat until the liquid is simmering. Add the shrimp, cover, and cook for 3 minutes only! Pour the shrimp into a strainer and immediately cover with ice. When the shrimp are cool, remove and discard the lemon rounds, garlic, and cilantro. Refrigerate in an airtight container until ready to use.

Lucy Buffett's Gumbo Love Cookbook

*Excerpted from the book GUMBO LOVE by Lucy Buffett. Copyright 2017 by Lucy Buffett. Reprinted with permission of Grand Central Life & Style. All rights reserved.