Shrimp Stew

Shrimp stew is definitely the most cajun dish without a cajun name.  An unessential musing that has always annoyed me. This dish has the gravitas and reverence for service in the finest restaurants or wedding reception buffet line but is approachable enough for a cajun hole in the wall friday lunch special.  I’ve served this dish for both scenarios and the only thing that I would change for the occasion would be how cute I get with the green onion garnish on top.

This dish is stuck somewhere between gumbo and rice and gravy, which is kind of like being stuck between a hush puppy and a soft place.  Shrimp stew requires a very dark thick roux, is served over rice, and can still be eaten with a fork. It may be most appreciated on lenten Fridays, but this dish is every bit as popular as its cousin, crawfish etouffee.  Like seafood gumbo, shrimp stew does not take very long to make because the delicate shrimp need only minutes to fully cook.

One day, I may come up with a name for a deliciousness/ease of cooking ratio.  Shrimp Stew would have a very high score. If you are lucky enough to live in a coastal area, you can get shrimp from local marinas for much cheaper than from grocery stores. However you get your shrimp, learn to make a roux, and make this recipe.

Extremely flavorful, great thick texture, hearty, nostalgic, warm.  Try this recipe and come up with your own descriptors.

P.S.

I performed a google search of shrimp stew.  The images and recipes that came up were either light brown or reddish tomato based abominations by supposedly Creole New Orleans cookbook reading amateurs and even professionals who have never crossed into Cajun country west of Mississippi River and therefore have no comprehension of the difference between Cajun and Creole cooking.  See the included photos to see what the real Cajun version looks like.

For the Roux:

2 cups all purpose flour

2 cups vegetable oil

Directions:

  1. In a large black iron or  porcelain enameled iron pot, heat up vegetable oil on medium heat
  2. Throw in flour
  3. Stir or whisk mixture until blended well
  4. Continue stirring constantly until mixture is dark as nutella or molasses. It should be allowed to burn, if it burns, you’ve got to start over.
  5. When this mixture has reached this color, the roux is complete and ready for the next steps.

 

For the Shrimp Stew:

2 pounds peeled and deveined shrimp

2 ½ cups diced onions

2 ½ cups diced bell peppers, any color

½ cup celery

2 minced cloves of garlic

2 diced jalapenos (optional but is a great way to add heat with depth of flavor)

1 ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper or to taste

2 teaspoon black pepper or to taste

2 teaspoon salt or to taste

1-2 cups seafood stock

Hand full of green onion for garnish

Directions:

  1. Prepare roux as above
  2. While roux is still hot and with fire still on medium heat, throw in all vegetables directly into the hot roux.  This is a glorious moment in the preparation of any roux based dish in terms of olfactory stimulation.
  3. Allow the vegetables to start to liquefy.  If the vegetables “get stuck” and do not seem to transform into a more liquid form, add the seafood stock at this time.  The desired consistency should be like somewhere between a soup and chili. Remember that it will be served over rice and generally should be able to be eaten with a fork after serving on top of rice.
  4. Throw in all dry seasonings
  5. Allow the mixture to come to a boil and reduce heat to simmer
  6. The mixture should be very dark at this point.  This is a good time to taste the mixture and decide if any stock or seasonings need to be added.
  7. When desired consistency and flavor is reached, throw in all of the shrimp and remove from heat when the shrimp is cooked through but still tender.  This only takes about two to three minutes.
  8. Serve over rice and sprinkle some green onions over the plated dish for presentation and flavor

Bon appetit!