Searching for the ultimate crispy on the outside, intense with herbal flavor on the inside version of the classic Shreveport Crabmeat Stuffed Shrimp? Then keep reading for the tips and tricks that will put that on your plate.
Original Shreveport Crabmeat Stuffed Shrimp
The original version of Shreveport Crabmeat Stuffed Shrimp emerged from the fryer at the Freeman and Harris Cafe in Shreveport in about 1921 when it was founded by Van Freeman and Jack Harris. And it’s said to be the oldest continuously operated black-owned restaurant in the lower 48! But who cares? Because it’s about the food which is wonderful and combines the best of the north and south parts of the state (kinda like what I try to do here on my blog!).
When the original owners passed on, the toque was picked up by Orlando Chapman who did chef duty until his death in 2015. Enter the current owner, Damian Chapman, who traded his engineering gig at Halliburton to come home and continue the family tradition. It’s now Orlandeaux’s and its Crab Stuffed Shrimp inspired me to create my own riff on the theme of stuffed!
Smoke on the Fryer
And when you think about it, the most famous riff in rock is Deep Purple’s ‘Smoke on the Water’ and purple is the color of LSU and Mardi Gras and you see where I’m going with this right? It was meant to be, so without further ado let’s get cooking.
The Tartar Sauce
If you have a favorite bottled version by all means go for it. Makes the recipe less daunting. That said, I do like this simple sauce with its capers, pickles, and squirt of lime. Worth trying and you can make it the day before.
Get twelve of the freshest and fattest, split them along the vein (which you will remove), top to tail but leaving the tail attached, and being careful not to cut through. Spread and flatten shrimp slightly. Set aside.
You can use any kind but claw is cheaper and tastier than lump so I’d go with that. Mix it with the parsley and lemon juice. It’ll be the last thing you fold into the stuffing after it’s been made.
In a large skillet, melt two tablespoons of butter. Add shallot, celery, and red bell peppers & chilis; cook until softened, about four minutes. Add thyme and garlic; cook, stirring, for one minute then add panko. Remove from heat. Cool.
Whisk egg and mayo in a bowl then fold into the cooked veg and finally, gently fold in the crabmeat. If it doesn’t bother you do it with your hands because that’s the gentlest method.
Stuff shrimp inside, then fold together and coat all over, leaving just the tail sticking out. Set on a wire rack while you make the batter.
The Beer Batter
When making batters for frying, starch matters. This batter has both wheat and rice flours: the wheat is for structure and the rice is for crunch. The structure provided by the gluten in the wheat helps the batter cling to the food without producing an overly chewy or greasy crust. However, if too much flour is used, you’ll end up with a tough crust. For this reason, rice flour reduces the gluten in the batter and works well because it fries up crispier than wheat flour. Rice flour also absorbs less moisture and fat during the frying process, making the shrimp less greasy.
And last but not least when you whip it up – don’t whip! The more wheat batters are whisked, the more gluten will develop and you risk ending up with a tough crust. This batter should be mixed until just combined – even if lumps are still present.
Forming the Shrimp
Put a small amount of stuffing inside the shrimp, close it and pack the outside lightly with the stuffing. Once the shrimp and the stuffing are formed, place in a slotted spoon and lower into the batter then bring it up for air and let the excess batter drip off. Immediately put into the hot oil. And one little tip. Make sure the tails are well fried because if they are they’re completely edible and very tasty.
Serve it up!
It’s traditionally served with some kind of fried potato as pictured above but I also like to include a side salad to soak up some of the grease. And one final point. These actually freeze pretty well so if you make a double batch you can reheat on a rack for a delicious fast food meal.
- For the Tartar Sauce:
- 1 cup plain mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon capers, chopped
- 1 tablespoon pickles, chopped
- 1 teaspoon onion juice (or grated onion)
- juice of ½ lime
- pinch black pepper
- For the Shrimp:
- 12 Jumbo Shrimp
- For the stuffing:
- 6 oz. crab claw meat
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice (or lime juice)
- ¼ cup parsley leaves, chopped
- 2 tablespoons butter (or olive oil)
- ¼ cup shallot, diced
- ¼ cup celery, diced
- ¼ cup red bell pepper, diced
- ¼ cup chili (your favorite can be serrano, jalapeno or shishito)
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons minced thyme leaves (or 1 tsp. powdered thyme)
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg, grated
- ½ cup Panko
- ¼ cup mayonnaise
- 1 large egg
- For the batter:*
- ⅔ cup all-purpose flour
- ⅔ cup rice flour
- 1 tsp. salt
- ½ tsp. pepper
- ½ tsp. paprika
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 11.2 oz. beer (added gradually)
- vegetable oil for frying
- For the Tartar Sauce:
- Chop the capers and pickles and add to the mayonnaise. Stir in the onion and lime juice along with the pepper and put in the refrigerator so that the flavors will marry.
- For the shrimp:
- Peel down to the final joint leaving the tail attached, then devein. Cut into the shrimp so that it opens somewhat but do not split completely in two. Blot dry with a towel and set aside.
- For the Stuffing:
- In a separate bowl mix together the crab claw meat, lemon juice, and parsley and set aside.
- Melt the butter in a pan and add the next seven ingredients cooking over medium heat for about five minutes until soft. Add the panko and set it aside to cool.
- Once cool add the crab mixture carefully with your hands.
- Mix the mayonnaise and egg well and work it into the rest of the stuffing. It should hold together if you pick up a piece and press it. If it does not add a little more mayonnaise.
- Holding the shrimp in the palm of your hand add about a teaspoon of stuffing, close gently, and then with the other hand pick up some stuffing and coat the outside to about a quarter of an inch thick. Set on a wire rack.
- Prepare all the shrimp then heat the oil to 375. These can be deep-fried or pan-fried in at least two inches of vegetable oil.
- To batter the shrimp place the stuffed shrimp on a slotted spoon and lower into the batter then bring it back up and let the excess drip off.
- Add to the oil.
- When brown transfer to a rack.
- For the Batter:
- Combine dry ingredients.
- Whisk together the egg and half of the beer then stir into the flour. Keep adding beer until the batter is the consistency of runny pancake batter. This is a judgment call meaning you may use the entire bottle of beer or may not. Just remember that the consistency should be runny.
- Place the stuffed shrimp in a slotted spoon and lower into the batter until covered then lift back up and let the excess drip off.
- Lower them into either a deep-fryer or a pan with at least two inches of vegetable oil heated to 375 degrees and fry until brown for about 5 minutes.
- Drain on a wire rack placed over a cookie sheet. Serve immediately.
- If you are frying in batches hold the shrimp in a 200 degree F oven on a rack to provide air circulation all the way around to prevent the shrimp from getting soggy.
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