State Fair of Texas

The State Fair's Award-Winning Deep-Fried Shrimp Boil Is Not a Good as a Shrimp Boil

It's become an annual tradition, and I'm not sure how. While other food-freaks try to consume deep-fried everything at the State Fair of Texas, I get to know one dish -- always the winner of the Big Tex Choice Awards -- a little more intimately.

So far my experiences haven't been great. Last year's deep-fried Cuban roll was a greasy mess that paled in comparison to the Cuban sandwiches that could be purchased just around the corner. The year before that I was moderately entertained by a deep-fried jambalaya that was tasty but impossibly small.

This year, Clint Probst clogged captured the hearts of judges with his deep-fried shrimp boil, served with remoulade. You can get a pair in the food tents set up right next to Big Tex at the entrance. You'll need to cough up 17 tickets to ride this ride, which amounts to $8.50 per order, but the good news is these babies sit in your belly like lead. Follow them up with a corn dog like I did and you'll be good for the week.

After you've secured your paper-lined basket, taken plenty of pictures and tagged your friends in Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pintrest #whymustIsuffer, use the shrimp tail that protrudes from one of the balls as a handle and give the ball a hearty dip in that remoulade sauce. Take a bite. This is what you'll find inside:

Clinging to that tail-on shrimp is a mixture of baby shrimp, red potatoes, mechanically separated corn and onion that's bound in a thick creamy concoction that eats like a soupy, under-cooked croquette batter. It's pleasing, in that same way that anything that emerges from a deep frier induces endorphins, but if a hundred of these were dumped out on a newspaper-lined picnic table, it would be a horrific event. In short: they're in no way better than shrimp boils that inspired the dish, remoulade sauce or not.

I mean, I finished them both. That basket was empty quicker than a carny can talk you out of your last five tickets. But I still don't understand why fair goers are losing their minds over a deep-fried carnival shit-show when none of these concoctions comes close to a perfectly fried corn dog.

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Scott Reitz
Contact: Scott Reitz