Wild caught shrimp in the shell are vital to this recipe. The texture of these shrimp will be drastically different from those peeled and frozen.
This recipe was adapted from My New Orleans by John Besh/Andrews McMeel Publishing.
Yield: 12-15 Servings
5 pounds jumbo Louisiana or wild American shrimp, peeled and deveined
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon minced fresh lemongrass
1/2 cup olive oil
3 medium onions, diced
10 clove garlic, thinly sliced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 bell pepper, red, green or yellow, seeded and diced
5 pounds overripe Brandywine tomatoes or other heirloom tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon ground all spice
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
Leaves from 2 branches fresh basil, chopped
Leaves from 1 sprig fresh mint, chopped
6-8 cups cooked white rice
Put the shrimp into a large bowl, season with salt and pepper, then mix in the lemongrass. Heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil in a large deep skillet over moderate heat. Add the shrimp, stirring and tossing them with a spatula. Sauté until they turn pink, about 2 minutes. Remove the shrimp from the pan and set aside while you make the sauce.
Into the same skillet with the oil and shrimp juices, add the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil and the onions, garlic, celery, and bell peppers and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon for about 2 minutes.
Add the tomatoes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and when the sauce comes to a simmer add the bay leaf, allspice, and red pepper flakes. Simmer for 10 minutes.
Add the shrimp back to the skillet along with the basil and mint. Cook for a minute or two. Season with salt and pepper. If the sauce tastes too tart, add a little sugar to balance the flavor. Remove the bay leaf. Serve over steamed white rice.