With Mardi Gras quickly approaching, here’s a delicious “Shrimp Dip” to include in Mardi Gras parties. What could be more southern that shrimp? The dip, served along with crackers and vegetables, is perfect for this festive celebration. Actually, the shrimp dip is good any time of the year and it is a favorite appetizer for winter holiday buffets. Our little group of musician friends, which meets weekly, ends each jam session with a table of wine and snacks. How much fun is that? So this week I’m bringing Marie’s appetizer recipe for “Shrimp Dip.” It is easy to mix up, colorful and tastes great. The dip is better if it sets for eight hours to overnight for the flavors to blend so I better get moving.
Fortunately, the recipe is quick to mix up. It is a one-bowl recipe and doesn’t require baking or cooking on the stove — except the raw shrimp must be boiled prior to mixing things up. Marie is not sure of the source, so I am guessing that it is one of those recipes which has been around for many years. Marie does remember that she served this appetizer at her daughter’s wedding celebration in the late 1970’s. Folks in Louisiana take pride in their cooking and they like to entertain; I’m sure the wedding reception, which was put on entirely by the bride’s parents, was fabulous. Over time, the recipe has been tweaked by Marie and I also made a change or two. But it remains simple to make.
Here are the ingredients. The recipe uses cream cheese as a base — let this soften at room temperature for an hour or more prior to mixing up the ingredients. Traditionally, this recipe is made with canned shrimp. Hum, I’ve never used canned shrimp and this ingredient turned out to be difficult to locate in grocery stores. I substituted very tiny salad shrimp instead which I purchased frozen.
When purchasing raw, peeled and deveined frozen shrimp with tails removed, remember that the count (150 – 250) refers to the number of shrimp in one pound. The larger the number, the smaller the shrimp. So, these shrimp are very, very small. But that’s okay, since you chop them up anyway. They have great flavor.
Since these tiny shrimp are raw, they must be boiled and cooked prior mixing everything up. That task is simple enough. Bring a pot, with several quarts of water, to a boil — adding in a teaspoon of salt. Add the defrosted shrimp and return to a boil. (Defrosting takes just a few minutes, by letting the shrimp stand in cool, running water.) Cook about 2 minutes until the shrimp just turn pink. Do not be tempted to over cook the shrimp. If fully defrosted, just 2 minutes is all it takes to cook these shrimp. Immediately remove from the stove and drain the shrimp.
When the shrimp are cool enough to easily handle, remove any black veins which may be remaining (the dark intestinal vein which runs down the back of the shrimp) and then chop the shrimp up into small pieces. Save out a few whole shrimp for garnish.
It works best to use an electric mixer to mix everything up since the cream cheese needs to be creamy and smooth. Add the softened cream cheese and mayonnaise and beat on medium speed until the mixture is soft and blended. This can take several minutes to about five minutes..
Another tip for this recipe is to use mayonnaise rather than salad dressing. Salad dressing tends to be sweeter and doesn’t complement the flavors in this recipe. Blue Plate brand of mayonnaise is an old New Orleans brand. The brand claims that use of egg yolks (not whole eggs) makes their product light and creamy. It also uses soybean oil as a major ingredient. Including mayonnaise is just enough to lighten up the cream cheese while remaining a neutral flavor.
After the cream cheese and mayonnaise are blended, add the cocktail sauce and garlic powder and blend in. Then fold in the shrimp and green onions using a rubber spatula.
Let the dip chill in the refrigerator for eight hours to overnight. You might worry that the dip will harden like a block of cream cheese. However, adding mayonnaise and whipping the combination with the mixer yields a soft, pliable dip.
Transfer to a decorative bowl and garnish with the reserved whole shrimp. Serve with crackers and vegetables crudités.
Marie’s “Shrimp Dip” was a hit. We ate the entire dish at our weekly gathering. Whether you are hosting a Mardi Gras party, Christmas buffet or wedding reception, this appetizer fits right in. And you don’t have to live in Louisiana to partake in a Mardi Gras party. Just enjoy the revelry where ever you live with a taste of Louisiana and this “Shrimp Dip.”
Marie's Party Shrimp Dip
- 8 oz (1/2 pound) small salad frozen, raw and peeled shrimp with tails removed (150 to 250 count)*
- 1 tsp salt
- 8 oz cream cheese, softened at room temperature for an hour or two
- 1/2 cup real mayonnaise (I used Blue Plate brand)
- 2 Tbsp seafood cocktail sauce
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/3 cup green onions sliced (whites and part of green tops), about 4 green onions
- parsley, garnish (optional)
- Crackers and assorted vegetable crudités for serving
Instructions and Steps:
- Defrost shrimp. Place in small bowl with cool water slowly running over shrimp. Stir occasionally to remove ice. When totally thawed, drain shrimp.
- Bring a saucepan with about 2-3 quarts of water to boil on stove. Add salt. When the water is boiling, add defrosted shrimp. Boil approximately 2 minutes until shrimp turn pink. Do not over cook. Immediately remove from stove and drain shrimp.
- When shrimp are cool enough to handle, remove any black intestinal veins which may be remaining on shrimp, using a small sharp knife. Then use a chef’s knife to chop the shrimp into smaller pieces. Reserve several whole shrimp for garnish. Set aside.
- Add softened cream cheese and mayonnaise to medium-sized bowl of electric mixer. Beat at medium speed until the mixture is creamy, soft and pliable.
- Add the seafood cocktail sauce and garlic powder and blend in.
- By hand, using a spatula fold in chopped shrimp and sliced onions.
- Transfer to a small bowl, cover and refrigerate for eight hours to overnight.
- When ready to serve, transfer to decorative serving bowl. Garnish with parsley (optional) and reserved whole shrimp.
- Serve with crackers and assorted vegetable crudités.
*NOTE: Traditionally canned shrimp are used in this recipe. If desired, one 4 oz can of tiny cocktail shrimp, drained and rinsed, may be substituted for the frozen salad shrimp. Chop the canned shrimp prior to adding to the cream cheese/mayonnaise mixture.