Spicy Cajun Shrimp

So here we are again with another shrimp recipe! We really do love our shrimp. Like the famous quote from the Forest Gump movie…

Bubba:
Anyway, like I was sayin’, shrimp is the fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it. Dey’s uh, shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried. There’s pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich…

Bubba got that right. Today we’re talking Spicy Cajun Shrimp, folks! This Cajun Shrimp recipe is inspired by the flavors of The Boiling Crab‘s “The Whole Shabang” shrimp. Since the first time I ate at The Boiling Crab with my sister and her husband, I have been going back again and again whenever I visit Alhambra to indulge in at least  1-2 pounds of shrimp with the whole shabang sauce. Forget the crawfish, shrimp is where the party’s at! Besides, crawfish has less meat, and takes so much more work to eat! Whatever it was, I loved that it was spicy, buttery, garlicky, and it tasted so good with shrimp and bread. Plus, slurping out the insides of the shrimp head was the absolute best.

Now since I live on the East Coast, there weren’t a whole lot of places locally where I could enjoy those addictive whole shabang flavors that I so craved. Flying to LA was my only shot at stuffing my face with that delicious shrimp. But then, a couple years ago, Wilson discovered a restaurant in New York called The Boil with similar flavor profiles as our experience with The Boiling Crab. And it was awesome! Flavors were great and seafood was fresh. We loved it!

But being in New Jersey, driving 40 minutes to the city, dealing with the usual impatient, poorly tempered city goers (myself included) and/or locals, bumper to bumper traffic, hunting for parking, and then waiting on the ungodly line that forms outside the popular restaurant, can sometimes feel….like a very LONG….albeit bothersome trip.

After coming back from Cali, I’ve looked up copycat recipes for the Whole Shabang sauce and have tried to replicate it ourselves a few times. The recipes that we followed in the past were great and tasted good, but I was always appalled at the amount of butter that went into the dish. I just figured, well, if you want it to taste good, you gotta add that butter, right? I know, it makes every dish taste good. Fat in general is awesome. But, since we are “trying” to be more healthy, we try our best to find substitutes, use alternative cooking methods like baking rather frying, or just use less of the unhealthy ingredient.

 

 

A couple weeks back, we had bought 2 pounds of fresh, head on shrimp from the local asian market and were trying to think of how to cook up the little guys for dinner. We both agreed that one of the best ways to preserve the sweetness of the shrimp was to steam it, and as we were talking, the lightbulb in my head went ding! “Let’s make something like the Whole Shabang shrimp, you know, from Boiling Crab!” I vaguely remembered the ingredients in the recipe I once followed, only knowing that cajun seasoning was a big factor, along with lots of garlic powder, garlic, and butter. Working with ingredients I had in my seasoning cabinet, using less butter and adding in some fresh produce, I went to work making a slightly “healthier” cajun shrimp dish, but with whole shabang flair!

 

I added tomato, green bell pepper and red onion to the mix, emulating the Asian style shrimp stir fry dishes I grew up with. I was crossing my fingers and hoping the flavors would come out as well as they did in my head while throwing this meal together, but it came out even better than I imagined! Wilson even enjoyed it and ate plenty of it despite the spice! (Although admittedly I purposely put less cayenne pepper, knowing that he can’t handle things that are too spicy.) Even in reducing the spice, I found the flavors to be very good and didn’t really need extra spice. Of course, feel free to add more if you want! 

The sauce was delicious and didn’t feel too oily or heavy, and it the steamed shrimp was sweet even under the spice. We toasted up some of our favorite Pepperidge Farm Garlic Texas Toast and boy did it hit the spot! We set up dinner in our living room coffee table with a large bowl for shrimp shells, some paper towels, hand wipes, and hungry, hungry hippo appetites. We watched a movie while peeling and eating the shrimp, licking our saucy fingers and dipping the garlic bread into the flavor puddles of sauce. Nothing like chowing down and getting your hands dirty with someone you love. 💖 I’ve made this recipe a couple times more after that initial “experiment” and it has been great each time, so it’s definitely tested and true. This recipe might not be an exact replica of the Whole Shabang from The Boiling Crab or the Boil, but it sure is awesome and close to it! 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 pounds shrimp, shell on
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped italian parsley
  • 6 cloves freshly minced garlic
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon cajun seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon white pepper powder
  • 1 tablespoon chicken bouillon powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1/2 tablespoon cayenne pepper powder
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Garlic Bread (I recommend French bread or Texas toast)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Wash, clean and clip off the whiskers of your shrimp. Leave the shell on and set aside.
  2. Prepare your steamer or a pot of boiling water to steam the shrimp in. Steam for about 5-6 minutes. Around the 4 minute mark, you’ll want to toss the shrimp a little to ensure even cooking by bringing the bottom shrimp up and pushing the top shrimp down. Let cook until it reaches the 6 minutes or until all the shrimp are opaque and red/pink in color.
  3. While it’s steaming, cook the red onion, garlic, red onion, tomato and green pepper in a sauté pan or wok until soft. Once the shrimp are done, put all the shrimp into the pan and add in the seasonings: cajun seasoning, white pepper powder, chicken bouillon powder, garlic powder, paprika and cayenne pepper powder. Toss to coat.
  4. Add the 1/2 cup water for the sauce to form. If it’s too much liquid, you can add cornstarch to your sauce to thicken it up a bit. My sauce had a good consistency at that point, so I didn’t add the cornstarch. Up to you!
  5. Once well coated and the sauce is ready, plate your shrimp and top with parsley. Serve with garlic bread to sop up all that delicious sauce and enjoy!

I hope you enjoy this as much as we did!

Until next time,

Jenny

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