Ask anyone from Caddo parish to name their favorite local spot for home cooking and you’ll likely get a short list headed up by Herby K’s. Herby’s was founded by Herbert Busi and he had a feel for branding that would do a hip hop producer proud. He gave the restaurant his nickname, Herby K, and the best joint in Shreveport was born.
Shrimp Busters soon followed. The Shrimp Buster marries Louisiana frying skills and South Pacific style butterflied shrimp in an early version of fusion cooking that is still packin’ em in on Pierre Avenue in Shreveport.
It began after the Civil War when Cesare Luchini moved to Louisiana from Italy and started a construction company that later built a restaurant serving the nearby railroad workers on the Kansas City Southern’s Flying Crow. That was 1936. By 1946 soldiers returning from the war were requesting a local version of the butterflied shrimp they’d come to enjoy in the South Pacific and Herby K’s was quick to comply.
My version is cooked in coconut oil which imparts a subtle flavor and is not at all greasy. It’s probably too expensive to do commercially at a price point that’s viable for a local diner trying to keep it real, but you can make it at home. I shallow fry the shrimp in batches and drain them on paper towels or grocery bags then transfer to a wire cooling rack and put in the oven while the rest are cooking. This keeps them dry and crispy.
Herby’s has their own sauce but I came up with a butter based alternative. It’s made with clarified butter, crushed garlic and lemon zest to taste. I remove the garlic before serving so there are none of those undercooked chunks of raw garlic to bite down on and make you unkissable for the next twenty four hours. It can also be swabbed onto the toast as well as being used for dipping. I included my version of a catsup based sauce below for those who prefer it.
To prepare the shrimp peel down to the tail leaving one section of shell attached. This will anchor the tail and keep it attached while frying.
Next dry them off well. Then take a meat pounder or even a coke bottle, oil the bottom and hit it lightly just enough to flatten it a bit. Then season to taste, dredge in rice flour, dip in the egg, and finally in the Panko/coconut breading mix. (I sometimes save a little of the shredded coconut for sprinkling on top. If you do that you can either leave it raw or toast it as I did.) Let it set for a few minutes then drop into about an inch of 350 degree oil and fry until brown on both sides. They cook fast so stick around. Try to push the tail into the hot fat while it’s cooking. If it’s crispy you can eat it too.
To maintain my rigorous commitment to testing each and every batch of busters I powered my way thru about a pound before sharing the rest. They were all good and so was the extra toasted coconut on top. In the unlikely event that there are shrimp survivors you may freeze them in foil and warm in the oven. They will still taste pretty good.
- For the shrimp:
- 2 lbs. jumbo shrimp
- 2 eggs, beaten
- ½ cup rice flour
- 2 cups Panko (or more if required)
- ⅔ cup flaked coconut
- Salt, Black pepper, toasted garlic granules & Cayenne to taste
- Coconut oil (enough for an inch of oil in whatever size pan you are using)
- For the Lemon Butter Garlic sauce:
- 1 stick of butter
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- lemon juice or rind
- For the catsup sauce:
- ½ cup catsup
- 1 tablespoon horseradish
- 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
- For the shrimp:
- Prepare three containers or plates. The first with rice flour, the second with beaten eggs, and the third with Panko/coconut breading.
- Peel shrimp leaving the tail attached and dry off.
- Cut the shrimp down the back till you can lay them out almost flat & blot dry with a paper towel.
- Gently flatten with the bottom of an oiled meat tenderizer or glass jar.
- Season to taste
- Dip in flour, then egg, then breading.
- Put about an inch of oil in a pan and heat to 350.
- Once oil is hot add shrimp. Fry till brown on both sides about 1 minute per side.
- Lemon Butter Garlic Sauce:
- Melt butter & skim off the white solids that rise to the top.
- Add the crushed garlic and let simmer over an extremely low heat for 10 minutes.
- Grate lemon rind over sauce.
- Remove garlic and serve.
- Catsup Sauce:
- Stir ingredients together and serve.