Traditionally a roux-and-tomato-based dish, Shrimp Creole in my new version has Vietnamese influences; it’s spicy and sweet, full of herbs and flavor. Any ultraripe tomatoes will work. The amounts given feed a typical Sunday supper at my house; for six to eight, halve the ingredients, but don’t worry too much: there’s a lot of forgiveness.
From My New Orleans by John Besh/Andrews McMeel Publishing
|5 pounds jumbo Louisiana or wild American shrimp, peeled and deveined||5 pounds overripe Brandywine or other heirloom tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped|
|Salt||1 bay leaf|
|Freshly ground black pepper||1/4 teaspoon ground allspice|
|1 tablespoon minced fresh lemongrass||1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes|
|1/2 cup olive oil||Leaves from 2 branches fresh basil, chopped|
|3 medium onions, diced||Leaves from 1 sprig fresh mint, chopped|
|10 cloves garlic, thinly sliced||Sugar|
|1 stalk celery, diced||6-8 cups cooked Basic Louisiana White Rice (see link in recipe below)|
|1 bell pepper, red, gree, or yellow, seeded and diced|
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.
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