Recipe: Cajun Shrimp
When it came to creating my own Cajun-style seasoning, though, I needed a little more personal advice than these television chefs. I was so lucky to have two friends with strong ties to Louisiana — Aurora and Judy. Both of them jumped into action when I told them that I was working on a Cajun blend; Aurora reached out to generations of family members back home, asking them for guidance, which led to her passing on comments like:
“Here in town, it [gumbo] is typically served with a side of potato salad and maybe some buttered french bread that’s been toasted”
“You can have heat but you got to have those flavors that come together just right“.
Judy’s first observation was “ I do not like anything blackened. You might as well burn it to me, but many do like it. I think it’s a personal preference myself“. Then she went straight into show-and-tell and mailed me 5 or 6 different Cajun seasonings that her family had used for years.
Armed with this valuable information and the support of these folks, I went into my kitchen and came out with a blend that I am thrilled with. It’s very aromatic, complex, and has just the right amount of heat.
Let’s put it to use on some shrimp, shall we?
1 lb raw shrimp, heads removed, deveined. Tails may stay on or off.
1 T olive oil
2 tsps Back In The Bayou spice blend
Place cleaned shrimp in a quart-size plastic storage baggie. Add olive oil and spice blend. Close bag and gently shake. Let shrimp marinate for 5 minutes then pre-heat large sautee pan to medium-high. Sautee shrimp for 3-5 minutes depending on size. Hint: a cooked shrimp forms a “C”, an overcooked shrimp forms an “O”. Right before serving, squeeze fresh lemon over shrimp.
To turn this into a main dish, sautee a mixture of celery, green peppers, onions, and garlic until tender. Add small can diced tomatoes. Add an additional teaspoon of Back in the Bayou spice blend. Heat well, then add the raw shrimp that has been marinating in the spice blend, cooking until shrimp is done. Serve over hot rice.
Epilogue: Aurora recently went down to Louisiana to visit family. She brought some Back in the Bayou blend with her, and gave it to her family to cook with. I was on the edge of my chair, waiting for the reactions of the elder women in the family, eating this Northern girl’s Cajun seasoning. It passed the test — she said they loved it!