Cajun Style Shrimp

When people conjure up the image of Louisiana they think Cajun style dishes and Cajun style shrimp is probably one of the hallmarks of that cuisine. The origins of this dish are one that is also clouded in stories and myth. It is as if in Louisiana the myths and stories they tell about a dish are as about as diverse as the people who live there.

cajun style shrimp
cajun style shrimp

Shrimp is by and large a Louisiana staple. When the BP oil spill occurred in the Gulf of Mexico it was the shrimpers who were damaged quite a lot by what that oil company did to the ecosystem. As well, it was feared that the shrimp population would never recover; fortunately that worst case scenario never occurred.

Ingredients for cajun style shrimp

  • 3 pounds jumbo-sized, raw shrimp, with heads, skins, and tails on
  • 2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning (taste first!; some brands are unbelievably salty) or substitute a combination of 1/2 teaspoon paprika with 1/4 teaspoon each of onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne, dried thyme, salt, and pepper
  • 1/2 cup beer
  • 1 loaf of crusty French or other similar bread
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons or more mild red pepper sauce (Crystal brand is ideal here)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 large fresh lemon, cut into wedges and the seeds removed
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup butter, cut into slices

Preparation

The first step is to remove the heads of the shrimp, you will not throw these away as they are integral the next step in the dish. As you are doing this you will need to put the shrimp in a bowl large enough to contain all of them and to allow room for seasoning. Once all the shrimp have been deveined and the heads have been removed you can then sprinkle liberally with the Cajun seasoning.

The second step is to add the shrimp heads that you removed previously to a saucepan with the beer you have for this recipe. It may be helpful to rinse the shrimp heads prior to putting them in the saucepan to remove and grit and grime that is bound to come with raw shrimp.

The third step is to strain the shrimp heads from this broth you created. To make sure you have extracted the entire flavor from the heads occasionally pressing them into the pan would help.

As you are preparing this dish it would be very helpful to have all the ingredients ready to be used. This can cook very quickly once all the preparations have been made.

The fourth step is to prepare the final cooking oil you will use for the shrimp. To do this you place the olive oil in the pan and allow it to reach its maximum temp, it will start to smoke a little. Then add the garlic and wait for the garlic to turn brown. What you are doing here is flavoring the oil. As you are stirring in the garlic make sure it doesn’t burn, bitter garlic would not help this dish at all. The rosemary leaves you have on hand can be added after you have browned the garlic.

The fifth step is to add the Worcestershire sauce, and broth, along with the pepper sauce. To extract maximum flavor make sure you get all of the bits that ended up at the bottom of the pan. Squeeze the juice of two lemons into the pan and then once all the juice has been extracted add the lemons as well. Finally add the shrimp meat which was seasoned previously. It should only take no more than 2 ½ minutes until this dish is done.

Finally add some butter to the pan to make a creamy sauce. Once that has been done  serve your cajun style shrimp with some warm bread you have.

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