By Mike Stines, Ph.B.
Almost every culture has their variety of piquant seafood… from Jamaican pepper shrimp to Creole shrimp and andouille jambalaya to Filipino hot and sour soup to Indian fish curry to Korean Jjamppong, a spicy noodle and shrimp soup… and everything in between but they all have a common thread, the liberal use of fiery chiles and very flavorful spices and sauces.
In this segment of Sizzling Seafood we’ll take a look at: New Orleans Barbecued Shrimp, Singapore Black Pepper Crab, Firecracker Shrimp, Jamaican Spicy Red Snapper, Thai Red Curry Shrimp with Snap Peas, and Penang Acar.
New Orleans Barbecued Shrimp
Although called barbecued, this classic New Orleans recipe has nothing to do with outdoor cooking or smoking, it’s a Creole/ Cajun method of making succulent shrimp. Head-on shrimp add a layer of flavor to this dish but headless shrimp (shells split and deveined) could be used. Serve with crusty French bread to sop up all the delicious sauce. Food lore claims this dish originated at Pascal’s Manale restaurant located in the Garden District of New Orleans in the mid 1950’s where it became a signature dish. The last time I had these at Manale they were a $24 entrée item.
2 pounds head-on large shrimp (or one pound headless 21/ 25 shrimp; 10 shrimp per person)
2 tablespoons Creole or Cajun seasoning (see recipe below)
1 pound unsalted butter, divided
1 cup finely chopped yellow onion (about 1/2 medium onion)
6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced (about 2 tablespoons)
1/2 cup finely chopped celery (about one rib)
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
1 tablespoon ground cayenne chile
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
1 tablespoon freshly cracked black pepper (use a large grind)
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons hot sauce
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Lemon wedges, for serving
Crusty bread, for serving
4 green onions, chopped, for garnish
Arrange the shrimp on a baking sheet and sprinkle both sides with Creole seasoning.
Melt two sticks of butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat and clarify. Add the onion, garlic and celery. Cook, stirring, until the onion and celery are softened, about five minutes. Add the remaining butter, parsley, cayenne, thyme, oregano, salt and pepper, Worcestershire, hot sauce and lemon juice. Stir to combine and cook briefly. Transfer the sauce to a small bowl and allow the sauce to cool.
Place the shrimp in a large casserole dish and pour the sauce over the shrimp. Marinate the shrimp, refrigerated, for one hour.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake the shrimp for 20 to 30 minutes or until the shrimp are opaque. (This could also be done in a large skillet on the stovetop.)
Transfer the shrimp and sauce to a large warmed serving bowl. Garnish with green onion.
Serve with crusty bread, lemon wedges and lots of napkins.
Yield: 2 servings
Heat Scale: Medium
While there are several very good commercial blends available, most are very heavy in salt content. By preparing your own mixture the salt content can be modified to your preference.
1/3 cup course kosher salt
1/3 cup smoked paprika
1/3 cup freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup granulated garlic
1/4 cup granulated onion
3 tablespoons white pepper
2 tablespoons seasoned salt
2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons dried thyme
2 tablespoons dried basil
1 tablespoon dried oregano
Mix all the ingredients until well combined. Store in an air-tight container (such as a canning jar) for up to four months.
Yield: About 2 cups
Heat Scale: Mild to Medium
Singapore Black Pepper Crab
Black pepper crab is one of the two most popular crab dishes in Singapore. It is made with hard-shell crabs fried with black pepper. Unlike the popular “chilli” crab dish, black pepper crab is less heavy due to the absence of a sauce. Black pepper crab is also very popular in Malaysia.
4 pounds raw blue (or Dungeness) crabs
3 tablespoons dark soy sauce (lao chou or koi-kuchi Shoyu)
3 tablespoons oyster sauce (ho yau)
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 tablespoons water
1 1/2 tablespoons oil
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 or two red serrano or large Thai chiles, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons white pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
2 green onions, finely chopped, for garnish
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish
Combine dark soy sauce, oyster sauce, sugar and water in a small bowl, stir, then set aside.
Pull back the apron of each crab, remove top shell, intestines and feathery gills. Rinse quickly. Cut each crab into quarters and crack the legs.
Heat the oil in a wok over high heat; add the crab pieces and stir fry in batches until the shell is bright orange and the meat almost cooked (about five minutes). Remove and repeat until all the crab is cooked.
Add the butter, ginger, garlic, chile, black and white peppers and coriander to the wok; stir fry 30 seconds. Add the sauce mixture and stir; bring to the boil; simmer two minutes.
Return the crab to the wok and toss to coat in the sauce. Cook another two to three minutes to finish cooking the crab. Transfer to a serving platter and garnish with the green onions and cilantro leaves. Serve with steamed jasmine rice.
Yield: 4 servings
Heat scale: Mild to medium