Campfire Recipes: Margaritaville Lava Lava Shrimp - LavaBox Style
Have you ever eaten at Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville? If so, you know it’s a 360-degree sensory and cultural experience. If not, picture everyone around you pumping their fists and yelling along to “...searching for my last shaker of salt… salt!… salt!… salt!” from their dinner tables, acrobats dancing on giant margarita glasses, live music, and 15-foot-tall men wearing Hawaiian shirts and walking up to your table on stilts to offer balloon art. Like I said, culture.
As far as the food goes, it’s basically your good old greasy bar food — with a twist. Each menu item is fit to pair with a rum-forward boat drink and dubbed with names to match like Volcano Nachos, Cheese Burger in Paradise (how could they not?), and Lava Lava Shrimp.
But here’s the thing about good old greasy bar food and chain restaurants. Even if it makes you feel guilty, you know the food is dang good. Every once in a while a chain restaurant comes up with an item so superior that it permeates the zeitgeist and spreads like wildfire across every other chain restaurant.
The Storied Past of Lava Lava Shrimp
Lava Lava Shrimp is one of those menu items that are just so dang good you’ll find it everywhere. At Bonefish Grill it’s called Bang Bang Shrimp. Dynamite Shrimp at P.F. Changs, and Crispy Dragon Shrimp at Red Lobster. Personally, I believe Margaritaville’s Lava Lava Shrimp reigns supreme — which is why I based this campfire dinner recipe on it. But maybe I’m biased.
Regardless of which chain restaurant offers the best rendition of this classic fried appetizer, they all seem to trace back to the same origin story — Thai crispy shrimp with sweet chili sauce (although Margaritaville’s version flaunts Caribbean inspiration). Yum.
Caribbean Shrimp, Campfire Style
We took this equatorial-inspired shrimp dish on the road and fried it up on top of a LavaBox in subfreezing temperatures. I must say, that while Bang Bang, Lava Lava, and Dynamite shrimp are undoubtedly all good, the results of this campfire recipe were better than any rendition I’ve had at any chain restaurant.
Maybe that’s because everything tastes better cooked over a campfire and baked in nostalgia and good times. Either way, we’re sharing our LavaBox Style Lava Lava Shrimp step-by-step campfire recipe with you. Keep reading.
Campfire Recipes: Lava Lava Shrimp - LavaBox Style - Food Prep and Packing List
When it comes to cooking campfire recipes I like to come prepared. Especially when cooking in the cold like we were while running R&D for this recipe. The LavaBox kept us nice and toasty, but you still risk some frosty fingers trying to chop vegetables and devein shrimp in 20℉ and snow.
While this campfire recipe does call for peeling and deveining shrimp, there are a couple of ways to cut down from having to freeze your fingers (or spend valuable time out of your camping trip) picking apart shrimp.
You can also prep the Lava Bang sauce ahead of time if you choose to.
Prepping shrimp to take camping
There are a few ways you can choose from to minimize how much prep goes into making shrimp while camping. These are the easiest options.
Buy peeled, deveined, tail-off frozen shrimp
This method is as easy as it gets. Pack the frozen shrimp in plenty of ice and ice packs inside your cooler. It cuts the “food prep” portion out of prepping the shrimp.
Just remember to start thawing it out before you’re ready to start cooking. If it’s negative freezing out when you’re camping, use your LavaBox to heat a bowl of warm (not hot/boiling) water to thaw the shrimp in.
Make sure to drain the water thoroughly and pat the shrimp dry with a paper towel before dipping it in the batter and frying (more on this below). Remember, this shrimp has likely not been cooked before, so bringing a food thermometer and making sure to cook the shrimp thoroughly is important.
Buy frozen cocktail shrimp
In my opinion, this is the most effective method for cooking shrimp on the campfire. Why, you ask? Cocktail shrimp is pre-cooked, so you don’t have to worry about temping the shrimp or undercooking it if you’re in a rush because you’re starving or too stoked to wait.
All you have to do is pack the cocktail shrimp in ice and thaw the shrimp when you’re ready. I expedited this by holding it above the flames of my LavaBox Portable Campfire. Is this uncouth? Maybe. Is it effective? Absolutely. Drain the rest of the water off the shrimp and use a paper towel to pat it completely dry. Then peel the tails off. You’re ready to go.
Prep Lava Bang Sauce at home
As a nod to the great chain restaurants of our time, we’re fondly calling our LavaBox Style Lava Lava Shrimp sauce Lava Bang sauce. Clever, huh? The sauce is key to nailing this recipe. It can be prepped at home in under five minutes.
½ cup Mayonnaise
4 tbsp Sambal Oelek ground fresh chili paste
2 tbsp Sriracha or preferred hot sauce
2 cloves minced garlic
2 tsp lime juice
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp rice vinegar
How to prep Lava Bang Sauce:
- Add all ingredients into a small bowl and mix thoroughly.
- Store in a sealed jar or Tupperware in a refrigerator or a cooler with ice and/or ice packs.
Packing List: Margaritaville Lava Lava Shrimp - LavaBox Style
If you prep the shrimp and Lava Bang Sauce ahead of time, you won’t need to pack much to cook up this delicious campfire recipe for dinner on your next camping or overlanding trip. But there are a few things you’ll need on hand.
(x2 Over/Under Grill Thingys if you want — or need, due to fire restrictions — a grill and stand at the same time)
Fork or spoon
Cast iron skillet
Let’s Get Cookin’! Campfire Recipe: Lava Lava Shrimp (Margaritaville) - LavaBox Style
Serves: 4 people
20-25oz of small/medium shrimp
Lava Bang Sauce
2-4 cups shredded green cabbage (depending on how much you like green stuff)
1 cup chopped green onions
¼ cup coconut oil
1 cup whole milk
1 cup all-purpose flour
⅓ cup panko breadcrumbs
⅓ cup cornmeal
¼ cup chopped, shredded coconut
1tbsp fresh ginger minced
1 big pinch of salt
1 big pinch of ground black pepper
1 big pinch of cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon chopped basil
½ teaspoon of ground sage
¼ teaspoon onion powder
How to cook Lava Lava Shrimp (Margaritaville) - LavaBox Style
The Batter Liquids:
- Crack the egg into a bowl and beat using a fork or spoon.
- Add the milk to the bowl with the beaten egg and stir to combine.
The Batter Solids:
- Add the flour, panko, cornmeal, shredded/chopped coconut, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, basil, sage, and onion powder to the other bowl. Plastic reusable camping plates/shallow bowls with the rounded ~1-inch lip are also great for this. Mix until all the dried ingredients are combined evenly
- Hopefully you remembered to thaw and dry your shrimp. If not, do that ASAP.
- If you haven’t minced the ginger and chopped the green onions and cabbage yet, do so now.
- Begin battering your peeled, de-tailed, deveined, dry shrimp by dipping each piece individually into the dried batter, followed by the milk and egg mixture, and back to the dried batter for a final coating. Set aside on a plate.
- After all of your shrimp has been battered, you can leave it to sit outside if it’s cold enough where you’re camping (40℉ or below) or set it on top of the ice in your cooler and give it 10-20 minutes to set.
- After the shrimp has sat for a bit, fire up the LavaBox. Place the cast iron skillet atop the Over/Under grill on your LavaBox and make sure the flame just barely licks about halfway up the side of the pan.
- Add the coconut oil to the skillet.
- As the coconut oil begins to soften and heat up, add the minced ginger to the cast iron skillet and swirl it into the coconut oil.
- Once the oil is HOT (sizzlin’), begin frying your battered shrimp in the oil. Give it about 3-5 minutes per piece of shrimp. Lean more on the conservative side of 4-5 minutes if you bought frozen uncooked shrimp. Less if you used cocktail shrimp. Flip the shrimp using tongs halfway through to cook the opposite side.
- Use your food thermometer to ensure the shrimp is at least 145℉ all the way through if you bought uncooked frozen shrimp.
- Once the shrimp is thoroughly cooked with a crispy outer shell, use the tongs to remove it from the skillet.
- Serve LavaBox Style Lava Lava Shrimp atop a bed of shredded cabbage. Drizzle it with a healthy dose of Lava Bang sauce and top with green onions.
Bon Appétit, Family Flame!
Try This Campfire Recipe for Yourself and Tag Us!
Now it’s your turn! Take this camping recipe with you next time you cook dinner over your LavaBox Portable Campfire. Snap some pictures and tag us on Instagram @fireanytime. We love seeing and sharing the goods you whip up on your LavaBox Portable Campfire!