New Orleans Shrimp Creole

Shrimp Creole is a venerable and classic New Orleans entrée. It combines the “Holy Trinity” of fresh vegetable seasonings with tomatoes, spices and shrimp to make a flavorful and satisfying dish. Although not seen as frequently on restaurant menus as perhaps in past years, the entrée is certainly served in New Orleans’ homes during Lent on Fridays. And most Louisiana chefs have a rendition of this dish somewhere in their files. With Lent here, I am making my Shrimp Creole recipe again. There are two approaches to making this dish — since I couldn’t decide which I like better; I made both variations. And I love tomatoes. This is my type of dish. Serve Shrimp Creole with rice. (And I have included several Mardi Gras 2021 photos at the end of the post.)

Creole vis Cajun Cuisine

Creole cooking is a product of New Orleans and is very old school. It represents a melting pot of the early influences and cultures which arrived in New Orleans during colonist times, especially French, Spanish and African. Each of these people brought their foods and cuisine with them and these blended together to make the Creole cuisine of New Orleans.

What is the difference between Creole and Cajun cuisine? To me, it seems to be a fine line and the differences have blurred with time. Perhaps Creole cuisine can be described as the cuisine of city folks, with more refinement of sauces, seafood, use of tomatoes. It is an aristocratic-type of cooking from old kitchens and French families. Cajun cooking might be defined more as “country cooking” with foods from the bayous and swamps. It was derived from French-speaking colonists who settled here after being displaced from the Acadia region of Canada. When I think of Cajun cooking — I think more of one-pot meals, roux, use of local seafood and ingredients and making do with what you have. Cajun cuisine can further be defined by coastal vs inland influences; but that is getting technical. When Paul Prudhomme arrived on the scene from Opelousas, Louisiana, in the 1980s, he brought with him blackened seafood and highly spiced recipes. This was a new component to Cajun cooking.

Shrimp Creole is similar to Cajun étouffée, jambalaya and gumbo in some respects. All these recipes use the “Holy Trinity” of seasonings — onions, celery and bell pepper (plus garlic) — as a starting point. However, Shrimp Creole includes tomatoes while the Cajun dishes do not. All the recipes are cooked long enough on the stove to meld flavors together. All the dishes can be mild or spicy depending on one’s preference. Étouffée and gumbo use a roux to thicken and flavor the stew-type dishes. This is optional with Shrimp Creole.

Does Shrimp Creole include a roux (which is flour browned in oil)? I review recipes from many Louisiana chefs and cookbooks. About half the recipes started with a roux while the rest did not. However, all included some sort of thickener — roux, flour or cornstarch. I guess it is the preference of the chef and recipe as whether or not to include a roux.

Shrimp Creole Recipe and Variation

There are two approaches to making a Shrimp Creole recipe. One way is to sauté the vegetable seasonings first, then add a thickener (flour or cornstarch) along with the rest of the ingredients. The flour does not “brown” as in a roux; it just thickens the shrimp creole. In this variation, I used more coarsely chopped vegetables and petite diced tomatoes. The flavor of the vegetables are more pronounced in this of this “Shrimp Creole” variation.

The second approach is to make a light brown roux first; then add the vegetable seasonings, sauté longer to let the vegetables wilt. Finish by adding broth and crushed tomatoes and lastly stir in the shrimp. In this case; I chopped the vegetables very finely and used crushed tomatoes. The tomatoes and vegetables serve more as a “gravy” for the shrimp.

This is a dish which benefits from lots of spices — oregano, thyme, bay leaves, parsley flakes. It is typically a fairly spicy dish. Both recipes use basically the same ingredients (except for the style of tomatoes). However, a note of caution. I would not include both red pepper flakes and cayenne pepper. Choose one. Perhaps pass Tabasco sauce at the table.

Making the Recipe – Variation I

For my Variation I recipe, chop up the onion, celery, bell pepper plus garlic to a course grind. This is the “Holy Trinity” of Creole and Cajun cooking. You use double the amount of onion as bell pepper and celery. Cook in oil until these are wilted in a large, heavy pot. Add the flour and cook several more minutes. Slowly stir in chicken broth to thin the flour. Then add the tomatoes, salt, spices and Worcestershire sauce. Let the concoction simmer on the stove.

Add raw, peeled and defrosted shrimp and cook about 10 more minutes until the shrimp are cooked and pink. For the shrimp, I used frozen and defrosted, raw, peeled shrimp. These are 31 – 40 count. Defrost under running water or in the refrigerator.

Here’s the first variation of “Shrimp Creole.” Garnish with green onion tops. Serve with cooked rice.

Shrimp Creole – Variation II

For this variation, first make a “roux” — flour browned in oil. The roux does not need to be dark brown as with a gumbo; just light brown. Chop up the vegetable seasonings (onion, bell pepper, celery and garlic) finely using a food processor. Then I sautéed these in the roux unto they wilted. For this variation, I added chicken broth and crushed tomatoes (rather than diced tomatoes). The stew simmered on the stove for about 30 minutes. I saluted the defrosted raw, peeled and deveined shrimps in oil and creole seasoning and added this to the stew and cooked for a few more minutes. If the sauce becomes too thick, thin as needed with a little water.

Garnish with parsley and green onions. Serve with hot, cooked long grain rice. Here’s the finished Shrimp Creole.

The two variations are similar in taste — the second variation is a little thicker and reminds me more of a tomato sauce. Both are delicious and make an elegant entrée for a Friday Lent dinner. Or serve just about anytime for an evening supper meal. Enjoy this traditional New Orleans dish!

Shrimp Creole - Variation I

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
Ingredients:

  • 1 lb medium-sized frozen, raw peeled shrimp tails (31 – 40 count)
  • 2 Tbsp oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped (about 2 cups chopped)
  • 2 ribs celery, diced (about 1 cup diced)
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, diced (about 1 cup diced)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (optional) (or optionally, several dashes of red pepper flakes)
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 (15 oz) can petite diced tomatoes with juice
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 cups cooked rice
  • 2 green onions, chopped, for garnish
  • 1 Tbsp dried parsley, for garnish
  • Tabasco hot sauce

Method and Steps:

  1. Defrost shrimp under running water or in refrigerator ahead of time. Set aside.
  2. Add oil to a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, celery, bell pepper and garlic and sauté until vegetable are wilted.
  3. Add seasonings of salt, oregano, thyme, Worcestershire sauce, black pepper and cayenne pepper (or red pepper flakes) and stir to combine well.
  4. On low heat, sprinkle in flour. Stir constantly and cook for 2 minutes.
  5. Remove skillet from heat. Slowly add several spoons of chicken broth, stirring constantly. Continue to slowly add more chicken broth until all is incorporated into the vegetable/flour mixture.
  6. Add the diced tomatoes with juice and bay leaves. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Then reduce heat to simmer, cover partially and cook for 20 – 25 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  7. Add defrosted shrimp and cook until pink, about 10 minutes.
  8. Remove bay leaf.
  9. Transfer to serving dish. Sprinkle with green pepper parsley.
  10. Serve with hot, cooked rice.
  11. Pass Tabasco sauce separately.

Here’s the second variation.

Shrimp Creole - Variation II

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb medium-sized frozen, raw peeled shrimp tails (21 – 30 count)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup finely chopped)
  • 1 ribs celery, diced (about 1/2 cup chopped)
  • 1/4 green bell pepper, diced (about 1/2 cup finely chopped)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 Tbsp oil, divided
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (optional) (or optionally, several dashes of red pepper flakes)
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 (15 oz) can crushed tomatoes with juice
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp creole seasoning
  • 6 cups cooked rice
  • 2 green onions, chopped, for garnish
  • 1 Tbsp dried parsley, for garnish
  • Tabasco hot sauce

Method and Steps:

  1. Defrost shrimp under running water or in refrigerator ahead of time. Set aside.
  2. Add onion, celery, bell pepper and garlic to medium food processor bowl and pulse and process until vegetables are finely chopped. Alternately chop finely by hand. Set aside
  3. Add 2 Tbsp oil to a large skillet over medium heat. Add flour. Stir constantly until flour turns medium brown.
  4. Add finely chopped onion, celery, bell pepper and garlic and sauté until vegetables are wilted, about 5 minutes.
  5. Add seasonings of salt, oregano, thyme, Worcestershire sauce, black pepper and cayenne pepper (or red pepper flakes) and stir to combine well.
  6. Remove skillet from heat. Slowly add several spoons of chicken broth, stirring constantly. Continue to slowly add more chicken broth until all is incorporated into the vegetable/flour mixture.
  7. Add the crushed tomatoes with juice and bay leaves. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Then reduce heat to simmer, cover partially and cook for 20 – 25 minutes. Stir occasionally. It sauce becomes too thick and sticks, add a little water.
  8. Add last tablespoon oil to another medium-sized skillet. Add defrosted shrimp and creole seasoning. Stir and cook until shrimp are pink, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  9. Add sautéed shrimp to creole sauce. Cook several more minutes until heated through.
  10. Remove bay leaf.
  11. Transfer to serving dish. Sprinkle with green pepper parsley.
  12. Serve with hot, cooked rice.
  13. Pass Tabasco sauce separately.

And this year, the Spanish Town neighborhood — which hosts the largest Mardi Gras parade in Baton Rouge (with 100,000 folks as spectators) had a “reverse parade.” Residents decorated their homes in the theme, “Pretty in Pink” and the spectators drove by and voted on their favorite home. Here is a sampling of the homes on the route.

So the pageantry and festivities are still here. This year Mardi Graw was a “new normal.” I’m hoping that next year things return to the “old normal” I love the parades, costumes, beads and festivities!

Reference:

https://www.louisianatravel.com/articles/cajun-vs-creole-food-what-difference

4 thoughts on “New Orleans Shrimp Creole

  1. I love all things creole/cajun. Your recipes are very similar to mine.
    Thank you for the two variations. Gonna try both.
    Thank you, Dan Harp, Visalia Ca.

    Like

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