John Besh’s Shrimp Creole
- Yield 12-15 servings
This Shrimp Creole has Vietnamese influences; it’s spicy and sweet and full of herbs and flavor.
- 5 pounds jumbo Louisiana or wild American shrimp, peeled and deveined
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh lemongrass
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 3 medium onions, diced
- 10 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 stalk celery, diced
- 1 bell pepper, red, green, or yellow, seeded and diced
- 5 pounds overripe Brandywine or other heirloom tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
- leaves from 2 branches fresh basil, chopped
- leaves from 1 sprig fresh mint, chopped
- 6-8 cups cooked white rice
- Put the shrimp into a large bowl, season with salt and pepper, then mix in the lemongrass. Heat ¼ cup of the oil in a large deep skillet over moderate heat. Add the shrimp, stirring and tossing them with a spatula. Sauté until they turn pink, about 2 minutes. Remove the shrimp from the pan and set aside while you make the sauce.
- Into the same skillet with the oil and shrimp juices, put the remaining ¼ cup oil and the onions, garlic, celery, and bell peppers and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, for about 2 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and when the sauce comes to a simmer add the bay leaf, allspice, and red pepper flakes. Simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add the shrimp back to the skillet along with the basil and mint. Cook for a minute or two. Season with salt and pepper. If the sauce tastes too tart, add a little sugar to balance the flavor. Remove the bay leaf. Serve over steamed Louisiana white rice.
Reprinted with permission from My New Orleans by John Besh (Andrews McMeel Publishing )