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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Louisiana Gulf Shrimp

Louisiana gulf shrimp
Help! I'm undergoing gulf shrimp withdrawal! On my Louisiana Seafood adventure I ate shrimp every single day and never got tired of them in the least. In Louisiana there are white shrimp, brown shrimp and freshwater shrimp. I particularly liked the flavorful brown shrimp I tried, though they are less popular than the larger white shrimp.

Shrimp from the gulf are sweet and succulent and perfectly safe to eat. At the Sustainable Foods Institute (part of Cooking for Solutions at the Monterey Bay Aquarium) I spoke with scientists who told me that the shrimp population came back quickly after the oil spill in the gulf and the testing has not shown any signs that the seafood is contaminated. Fortunately Louisiana gulf shrimp are available all over the country and are really worth seeking out for their superior flavor and texture and because they are harvested in a more sustainable way than the cheap shrimp you find imported from Asia.

So how many ways are there to eat shrimp? Probably more than I can count, but here are my absolute hand's down favorites from the trip:

Barbecue shrimp from GW Fins, upper left hand corner. Now barbecue shrimp in Louisiana are not "throw a shrimp on the barbie" Australian shrimp, or doused in Texas style barbecue sauce, they are cooked in butter and spices and positively delicious. I found this recipe online, so you can try making them at home. Now if I could just get my hands on the savory Jazzmen rice pudding recipe that accompanied the shrimp...

Shrimp boil is next, shown in the upper right hand corner. But here's what I learned about shrimp boil. It's shrimp poached gently in a spiced broth, off the heat! The shrimp never get boiled, just the seasoning mix and cooking liquid. This was news to me, but explains why you end up with such juicy shrimp, it's probably the most gentle way to cook them. Cooking them in the shells helps prevent them from overcooking and yet they do take on the flavor of the "boil."

Shrimp remoulade is in the bottom right hand corner, as served at Mandina's. My thanks to Pim for introducing me to this neighborhood gem and my other charming and enthusiastic dining companions–Adam aka the Amateur Gourmet and Chichi who writes for Serious Eats. The secret to this dish was of course the remoulade sauce, which was heavily spiked with horseradish. Yum! Horseradish makes pretty much everything taste better. Especially remoulade sauce.

Last but not least, fried shrimp (and some oysters too). This was another dish at Mandina's and while I never got my hands on a po' boy, this was the same thing, just no bread. More shrimp! The folks in New Orleans know how to fry their food so every thing is crisp and greaseless. Seriously, they are deep frying experts and I am happy to leave the frying to them.

What's your favorite way to enjoy shrimp? Shrimp etouffée? Shrimp bisque? Is there a particular NOLA style shrimp dish you love?

My thanks to Louisiana Seafood for sponsoring this trip. It was a blast!