Soul-Satisfying and Best Shared With Family and Friends
Growing up in Texas the cuisine of my neighboring state, Louisiana, was a mystery to me.
Aw heck, the entire state perplexed me.
The Cajun accent sounded like a foreign language, and what was a Cajun anyways? Or a Creole?
From crawfish boils to boudain, this very unique state offers an amazingly flavorful mixture of dishes using centuries-old cooking techniques conferred by those who settled there from France, Portugal, Spain, Africa, and others.
The Difference Between Creole and Cajun Cuisine
Cajun cuisine is considered “country” cooking and makes use of large pots into which ingredients are added that the cook either hunted, grew on their land, or sourced locally.
Creole cuisine, known as the “city” cuisine, is a bit more sophisticated and reflects more refined French cooking techniques, use of sauces, and ingredients that were available in the market.
Another interesting distinction is that Creole cuisine includes the use of tomatoes while tomatoes are never or rarely seen in a Cajun dish.
Many thanks to neighbors and friends who’ve introduced me to the joys of Cajun and Creole cooking over the years.
Shrimp Creole: A Magical Combination of Tomatoes, Spice and Shrimp
It’s a beautiful and easy way to step into this delightful cuisine.
My version of shrimp creole uses crushed canned tomatoes instead of fresh. If you have access to flavorful, fresh tomatoes, give it a whirl.
And, there’s no need to buy special Creole seasoning. Every spice should be a staple in a well-stocked pantry.
This lovely, traditional, and easy-to-make-on-a-weeknight dish is spicy, but not the “my mouth is on fire, I need to reach for a glass of water” kind.
Instead it exudes a toasty warmth; the kind that reaches deep to soothe and satisfy, and that is best experienced with friends and family.
This lovely traditional Creole dish is spicy, but not the “my mouth is on fire I need to reach for a glass of water!” kind. Instead it exudes a toasty warmth, the kind that reaches deep to soothe and satisfy. It’s best experienced with friends and family.
2 pounds shrimp, peeled, deveined (reserve shells to make shrimp stock, recipe below)
1 onion, small dice
2 ribs celery, small dice
1 small green pepper, small dice
1 tablespoon oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1 1/4 teaspoons black pepper
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
2 bay leaves, fresh or dried
14.5 ounces crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 cups shrimp stock
2 tablespoons Frank's Hot Sauce (or Tabasco)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons fresh thyme
salt and pepper to taste
sliced green onions
Shells and tails from 2 pounds of shrimp
1 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped celery
3 cloves of garlic, smashed
2 bay leaves
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the butter and oil to the hot skillet.
Add the celery and bell pepper to the skillet; sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt to sweat the vegetables.
Add the onions once the celery and bell peppers have begun to sweat. Reduce heat to medium-low and sauté until all the vegetables are tender.
Add the garlic to the skillet, and sauté for 1-2 minutes until garlic is fragrant.
Add all the spices except the bay leaf and thyme to the skillet.
Sauté another minute to toast spices.
Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, and white wine. Stir together.
Add the shrimp stock and bay leaves.
Reduce heat to maintain just a simmer and simmer sauce for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
After 30 minutes, stir in the hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and thyme.
Taste and adjust seasoning, if needed.
Add shrimp to sauce and continue to cook on low to medium-low heat just until shrimp turns pink. (Be careful not to overcook shrimp as their texture turns rubbery.)
Remove from heat.
Ladle over rice.
Add shrimp shells and tails to a large pot.
Cover shells and tails with cold water, approximately 6-8 cups.
Add the remaining ingredients.
Place pot on high heat; as pot begins boil, reduce heat to a simmer. Skim off any scum that rises to the surface.
Adjust heat as needed to just simmer for 45 minutes.
Strain through a fine mesh strainer.
This will make more shrimp stock than you need.
Freeze stock in 2 cup portions as use as needed.