Nearly four years ago I posted a recipe for quick and easy shrimp Creole. Actually, the real deal doesn’t take that much effort, so I thought another recipe might be in order. The stimulus was my discovery of a bag of shrimp in the freezer. In our de-cluttering effort we are trying to clean out a small chest freezer we keep in the garage. Some decisions of what to get rid of were easy. Down at the bottom of the chest I found dates that went back years (No “Best to use by” labels here.) The shrimp were near the top and represented a fairly recent purchase, so they were moved to the freezer in the house to be used soon. Shrimp creole seemed like the easiest solution. Of course, the star of the dish is shrimp, but it couldn’t be Creole without the so-called Cajun Trinity – onions, celery, and green bell pepper. Those three vegetables are the base for so many Louisiana dishes including gumbo, jambalaya, and etouffée. In South Louisiana, many recipes call for Creole tomatoes, which are big, flavorful, and juicy. Large fresh tomatoes of other varieties are a good substitute, but in winter, canned tomatoes will have to do. If you’re using canned tomatoes, use a large can (28 ounces) of whole tomatoes, well drained and crushed in your hands before you add them to the sauce. As to spiciness, some in our household are extremely sensitive to hot chiles, so the seasoning in this version is fairly mild, but you should feel free to spice up your batch as much as you like. Most importantly, enjoy the fruits of your labor.
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 medium onion, peeled and chopped coarsely
- 1 rib celery, chopped coarsely
- 1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped coarsely
- 3 large, ripe tomatoes, blanched, peeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups fish stock
- 1 8 ounce can tomato sauce
- 1 sprig thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 teaspoons dried basil
- salt and pepper to taste
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (adjust according to taste)
- dash Tabasco sauce (adjust according to taste)
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- juice of ½ lemon
- 2 pounds extra large (16-20/pound) shrimp, deveined, peeled, and tails removed
- ½ cup chopped Italian parsley (more or less)
- cooked rice
- Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over a medium flame. Add the onions,, stir, and cover to sweat the onions – about 5 minutes – until the onions are translucent. Do not let them brown. Add the celery and bell pepper. Stir and cook for about 5 minutes until the vegetables are wilted.
- Add the garlic, fish stock, tomato sauce, thyme, bay leaf and basil. Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Adjust seasoning to taste with salt, pepper, cayenne, and Tabasco. Add sugar and lemon juice. Add more salt if needed.
- At this point, you may cool the sauce and refrigerate for later use. The flavor improves overnight, but you probably shouldn’t try to hold it much longer.
- When you are ready to serve, prepare a batch of cooked rice according to your usual method. Return the sauce to a heavy pot and bring to a low boil. Add the raw shrimp and return to the boil for about 5 minutes until the shrimp have turned pink and they have lost their translucence.
- Ladle into large soup bowls over a mound of hot, cooked rice, garnish with parsley, and serve immediately. Have more Tabasco available for those who like their shrimp Creole spicier. Should serve 4 to 6.