Celebrate Mom and National Shrimp Day!
Today is National Shrimp Day, a day that's celebrated because Americans eat Shrimp more than any other seafood. It's Bubba Gump's favorite day of the year! I remember years ago flying over the Gulf Coast shrimp beds on a tour with a seafood sales rep from a local seafood distributor. It was fascinating to see the boats circling and what they were pulling up on their nets from above. It was a great geography and history lesson about the shrimping industry of the Gulf Coast. I love the texture and savory taste of shrimp. It's a versatile crustacean that can lend itself to being multicultural. Now that I practice a plant-forward way of eating, shrimp dishes are fewer for me these days. However, when I am feeling homesick, my favorite recipe for shrimp heralds from the famous Pascale Manale's restaurant in New Orleans takes me back there, if even only for a little while. There are some amazing plant-based shrimp alternatives out on the market available frozen in well-stocked Asian Supermarkets that would work as a stand-in.
The ingredients used for this dish are:
Shell on Shrimp - The most widely available shrimp I have found is 21/25 which means there are about that many to one pound. The original recipe calls for head-on but those are only available in season these days. The idea of BBQ shrimp is that you peel and eat them in all their saucy glory. Yes, it's a lot like eating ribs, you have to work a bit for it. You can peel the shrimp prior to cooking, it works just as well, you just don't get to suck the shells clean of herby shrimp saucy goodness. One note about the shells, if you do peel them, be sure to take the tail off.
Garlic- whole cloves, crushed will do the trick, however, chopped garlic from the jar will suffice with agreeable results. Just don't use garlic powder as this is a key ingredient in this and all Cajun dishes. People think that Hot pepper is the most relatable representation of Cajun cooking and it's not, it's garlic!
Green onions and onion powder- I use both of these to layer the onion flavor as they lend two different tastes to the dish.
Olive Oil- Since this dish is cooked, it's not necessary to have EVOO. It may seem like a lot of oil if you are squeamish about using oil for cooking, however, it is 2 pounds of shrimp and it's the base of the delectable sauce. The shrimp juices mix with the oil as they cook. You can for sure get by with less oil and you can use real or plant butter in place of it with amazing results.
Kosher Salt- I use Kosher as a stand by, however, you can use coarse sea salt or pink salt in place of Kosher. If you use table salt, in this dish, it would be about the same.
Worcestershire Sauce- This sauce is a staple in the Cajun cupboard. Along with Tabasco, it has long been used as a stir in condiment to almost every classic Cajun dish. If you are practicing plant-based, one without anchovies is readily available on the market.
Cajun Seasoning- This spice gives this dish it's distinctive Louisiana flavor. You can use the no-salt variety, but don't leave it out as it will be missing something.
Lemon Juice and White Wine- Both of these cut the heavy taste and make the dish more interesting. They both are a great partner to the olive oil. You could leave out the wine and swap it out with more lemon juice. OR vice versa.
Paprika- I have always liked the color and subtle pepper taste that Paprika gives to savory dishes. You could certainly use Smoked Paprika for a stronger flavor and give the dish a hint of smoke. Both will work wonderfully.
-I like to use a 9x13 casserole dish for this recipe. The more open and shallow, the better heat distribution during cooking.
-Serve with a loaf of crusty bread for sure, and a salad to round out the meal.
-It's important to mix the sauce ingredients and pour over the shrimp evenly.
- I don't recommend freezing after cooked, but they will keep nicely in the fridge for up to 4 days. Gently reheat in the oven at 350 for 10 minutes or until hot, or half power in the microwave for a minute or two depending on your oven.
- A yummy side dish to this recipe is my Cajun Fried Rice. Click HERE for the recipe.
The Nola website gives the history of BBQ shrimp which has nothing to do with a grill as follows:
"In 1989, restaurant writer Gene Bourg reported that a visitor from Chicago named Jimmy Sutro was the creator of the now-classic dish. He came here a lot in the 1950s to play the horses and eat at Pascal Manale's and was good friends with proprietor Pascal Radosta Sr. Sutro made the dish in the kitchen and then taught it to the cooks."
If you are fortunate enough to spend time with your mother this Mother's day, this is a great do-ahead recipe and cook at the last minute. The real McCoy recipe features shrimp with the head and shell on, however, it's just as tasty with the shell off. If you are going to go shell-less, be sure to take the tails off too. One of my pet peeves is being served succulent, amazing shrimp in a sauce with the tail on. I have to pick it up at some point and if it's messy, I always end up wearing it.
Coco's BBQ Shrimp
The spice combo is not set in stone. Use what you have that is near the same flavor. Serve with crusty French bread to sop up the delicious juices at the bottom of the pan.
2 pounds 21/25 shrimp shell on
6 cloves garlic crushed
1/8 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 bunch green onions, chopped
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 cup Olive Oil
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce