If you crave a rich traditional Shrimp Creole keep reading! This will wake up your taste buds with lots of thyme, garlic, and three kinds of heat from red pepper flakes, to black pepper to cayenne. And this version offers the option of homemade shrimp stock or one with bottled concentrated stock.
So let’s get started:
What makes it different?
- For starters, the roux. With most roux, you brown the flour in the fat first. With this one, you caramelize the onions in the fat then add the flour and brown. As it’s browning you add a tablespoon of tomato paste. All about layering flavor. Then you add the shrimp stock.
- The stock. It can be homemade on the day you make the Shrimp Creole or pulled out of the freezer, or from a canned or concentrated stock. I’ve done it all three ways. When making it this time I had no premade stock so I browned the shrimp shells in the saucepan then used diluted concentrate to finish. Let it bubble for ten then strained out the shells and it was very good.
- Herbs and spices. We all know that lots of tomato – good as it is – can overwhelm other flavors. That’s why I call for more of all the other good stuff. More garlic, more thyme, and more heat.
Once the seafood stock is ready and the veg is chopped, it’s time to focus on the roux. Ideally, you’ll use bacon fat or lard but if you don’t have them on hand (and I didn’t this time) you can use vegetable oil and a strip of bacon for the flavor. Heat that over a low flame and then add the onions and stir until very brown. What you see below is about half cooked and will take another few minutes.
And hint – don’t walk away because they can burn quickly. Once browned, stir in the flour just as you would normally do for a roux, cooking until medium brown at which time you will add the other chopped veg, tomato paste and cook for about three minutes.
This is the easy dump and stir part. Add the chopped tomato (and fire-roasted is good if you’re buying canned), tomato sauce, and half of the stock. Don’t add it all at once. Reserving a cup or so allows you to control thickness. Some people like it very thick, others not.
Everything’s here except the bay leaf and fresh thyme (I used dry in this). Once all of this has bubbled for 20 minutes or so, cut the heat, add the shrimp, cover, and let sit for at least ten minutes. Check for the thickness of the sauce and add more stock if necessary.
And if you’re craving a side salad, my Orange Arugula is great. Great on its own and has a tartness that pairs well with the richness of the Shrimp Creole. Last, but not least, follow this link to the instructions for great seafood stock.
- 1.5 lb. smaller shrimp, peeled and deveined
- For the roux:
- ¼ cup bacon fat (or vegetable oil)
- 1 cup onion, diced
- ¼ cup flour
- 1 teaspoon tomato paste
- For the Sauce:
- 1 cup celery, chopped
- 1 cup bell pepper, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, diced
- 2 14.5 oz, cans of diced tomato with juice (or 3 cups peeled, seeded, & diced fresh ones)
- 1 8 oz. can of tomato sauce
- 3 cups seafood stock
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 tablespoons chopped thyme leaves (or two dried)
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
- salt to taste
- Green onion, chives, or parsley for garnish
- white rice
- Peel & devein shrimp, set aside
- Melt the fat in a pot and add the onions, stirring until brown.
- Stir in the flour and cook over medium heat until the roux is brown, then add the tomato paste and cook for another minute.
- Add the celery, bell pepper, and garlic and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add two cups of the stock and fully incorporate, then add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, and all other seasonings.
- Cover and cook over low heat for 20 minutes. Check for thickness and add more stock if necessary.
- Once the thickness is to your liking, add the raw shrimp, cut the heat, cover and let steam for 10 minutes.
- Taste the sauce and add a teaspoon of sugar if too tart and salt if necessary.
- Chop garnish and serve with rice.