Classic Shrimp Creole

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Classic Shrimp Creole-comfort food from the bayou. Here’s Sweet Daddy D’s no-angst way to make this delicious Creole treat that will become an instant family favorite.

Shrimp Creole in a bowl with green onions and french bread
Classic Shrimp Creole

Shrimp Creole is made by cooking shrimp in a classic Sauce Creole: a simple, rich, red sauce which epitomizes Creole cuisine. The result is a delicious and versatile sauce which can be used on a variety of seafood, game, meats and is particularly good on eggs. It contains tomatoes, the holy trinity of onions, bell peppers and celery along with herbs and spices including red pepper. It’s oversimplified, yet accurate, to say that this dish combines the characteristics of French, Spanish, African and Indian cultures which define the Creole cuisine.  

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Here’s What You Need

The main flavor drivers in the Creole Sauce are the tomatoes and lemon. One 28 ounce can of whole tomatoes works perfectly along with an 8 ounce can of tomato sauce. You’ll need two lemons-for the juice of one and a few slices from the other. Starting off will be the holy trinity-that’s yellow onions, bell peppers and celery sauteed in butter. Garlic and green onions will help enhance those flavors-we’ll cook some green onions into the sauce and then use some to sprinkle on top when we serve. You won’t be making a roux for this recipe, but you will use a little all-purpose flour as a thickener. The herbs and spices are essential in shaping the Creole flavor: dry oregano, basil and thyme, some bay leaves, kosher salt and ground black pepper along with Creole Seasoning. Ground cayenne pepper is very common in Creole Sauces, but its optional and the amount is a matter of personal preference. Two other ingredients help define the overall flavor-granulated sugar to offset some of the bitterness of the tomatoes and a little Worcestershire sauce to add a subtle bit of tang. It’s all going to simmer in some stock-preferable seafood or shrimp stock for a Shrimp Creole, but chicken stock works well for this or any Creole Sauce. Of course we need some nice, plump fresh Gulf shrimp, and some cooked rice to ladle it over. Often you can find some nice frozen shrimp that have been peeled and deveined and those work very well and save a lot of time and effort. Make sure to use a heavy bottom dutch oven with a nice lid. The chef is going to need some beers.   

Whole fresh heads-on shrimp

Fresh Gulf Shrimp

Here’s What You Do

First…you have a beer. Basically what you are making is a classic Sauce Creole.  Simmer fresh shrimp in the Sauce Creole and serve it over rice and you have Shrimp Creole, or Shrimp a’ la Creole, as it is commonly referred. To get your mind set for this, pop open a beer or glass of wine while you read the recipe a couple of times. Lots of ingredients and lots of steps? It’s really a lot simpler than you imagine and some basic preparation will reduce the angst of tackling this classic-some good mise en place will do you good, and it starts with that beer! Once you’ve prepared it a couple of times, you’ll recognize how simple it is.

Mise en place.

Gather all the ingredients together. If using fresh shrimp, peel, devein and rinse them. Use some paper towels to pat them dry, then mix in some creole seasoning and set aside. Open the can of whole tomatoes and pour them in a strainer or colander placed over a bowl. Using your hand, crush the whole tomatoes right in the strainer and let them drain while you continue you’re prep. While you’re opening cans, open the tomato sauce and set it aside. Time to chop. Chop up the onions, bell peppers and celery as fine or as coarse as you like and place them together in a bowl. Chop the green onions and the garlic and place each in a separate bowl. Squeeze the lemon juice into a ramekin, slice the other lemon and set the slices in the ramekin with the juice. Place all these into separate ramekins: sugar, Worcestershire and flour. Pour the stock into a measuring cup and mix the Herb and Spice Blend in a small bowl. The idea is to combine ingredients that hit the pot at the same time or at least organize things as to how they go in the pot. Now, let’s get cooking.    

Saute the veggies in the butter.

Place the dutch oven over medium heat and add the butter. Pop the cap on another beer while the butter melts. Once the butter is nice and bubbly, add the trinity. Stirring often, saute for about 15 to 20 minutes until they are well on the way to caramelization.  Add the garlic, about half of the Herb and Spice Blend (not the bay leaves yet) and about ⅔ of the green onions. Save the rest of the green onions to put on top when you serve. Keep sauteing that for another 2 or 3 minutes.

Adding herbs and spices and garlic to sauteed vegetables for shrimp creole
Saute the trinity in the butter, then add garlic and the Herb and Spice Blend
Adding green onions to sauteed vegetables for shrimp creole
Add the green onions
Mix in the flour.

Throw in the flour and mix it well into the sauteed veggies. This will serve to thicken the sauce as it cooks, so stir for 2 or 3 minutes while the flour taste cooks out. You don’t want it to brown like a roux, but it will adopt all the rich colors of the caramelized veggies and spices.

Adding flour to sauteed vegetables for shrimp creole
Add the flour to thicken things up

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Everything else in the pot (except the shrimp).

Mix in the crushed tomatoes (reserving the excess liquid) and the tomato sauce and when it starts to simmer add in about half of the remaining Herb and Spice Blend (so that’s ¾ of the total so far), both bay leaves, the sugar and the Worcestershire sauce. Stir to blend everything together, then add the lemon juice, lemon slices and about 1 cup of the stock. (Reserve the remaining stock in case it gets too thick later). Once it reaches a heavy simmer, turn down the heat to a low simmer for about 30 minutes, uncovered. As it starts to  thicken, make sure to stir it often so it doesn’t stick to the bottom. It’s also a good time to cook the rice and have another beer.

Adding herbs and spices, sugar and Worcestershire to shrimp creole for shrimp creole
Add tomatoes, sugar, spices and Worcestershire sauce

 

Adding lemon juice and lemons to shrimp creole
Add the lemon juices and slices
Cover the pot and continue to simmer.

After 30 minutes uncovered, stir it well, place the lid on and continue at a slow simmer for another 30 minutes, covered. Stir it often, we’re looking for a thick, smooth, but chunky, sauce.

Simmering shrimp creole
Let it simmer
Test for seasonings and add the shrimp.  

After 30 minutes, remove the lid and taste it. This is important, so it may be a good idea to cleanse your palate with another beer. Add the remainder of the Herb and Spice Blend and more salt if you think it needs it.  The shrimp will soak up a lot of seasoning and salt, so it’s fine if it seems a little over seasoned, in fact we want it a little over seasoned at this point. Also, if its too thick, add some of the reserved stock or liquid from the crushed tomatoes. Bring the heat up to a heavy simmer and add the shrimp a few at a time, mixing as you go. Lower the heat, cover the pot and simmer for 5 minutes, then turn the heat off and let it sit, still covered, for 5 more minutes.

Adding shrimp to shrimp creole
In go the shrimp
Time to serve it up.

Remove the bay leaves and lemon slices and serve over cooked rice. Sprinkle some chopped green onions on top and serve with a nice green salad, some green beans and some crusty french bread.

Shrimp Creole in a dutch oven
Classic Shrimp Creole

That’s all there is to it, simple as that.

Shrimp Creole in a bowl with green onions and french bread
Classic Shrimp Creole

Here are some great recipes from Sweet Daddy D that would go great with Shrimp Creole:

And you can keep your inner Cajun happy with these other classics from Sweet Daddy D:

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Tips and Hints

  • What’s the difference between this Creole and etouffee or jambalaya?  Like an etouffee, Shrimp Creole is served over rice, while in jambalaya, the raw rice is cooked along with the meats and seasoning so that the rice absorbs all those flavors. I’ve seen may restaurants around the country offer jambalaya only to find that they have a sauce served over rice. That’s just wrong. They should just change the name to Creole and it would probably be right. An etouffee is a roux-based gravy in which the seafood or chicken is smothered. Creole sauces are tomato based and usually use flour as a thickener and not to make a roux, and can have the protein cooked in it or can be poured over the protien.
  • This Shrimp Creole can be frozen in an airtight container for 3 to 4 months. To serve, thaw in the refrigerator, then simmer slowly on the stovetop.  If that’s your plan, make the Creole Sauce up to the point of adding the shrimp, then freeze it. When it’s time to prepare, just pick up the instructions where you left off.
  • Leftovers will keep for 3 or 4 days in the fridge in an airtight container.
  • Shrimp are the most popular seafood, but nutritionally speaking, shrimp are a mixed bag. They are low in calories and provide some valuable nutrients and a couple of antioxidants. They are low in saturated fats and have no trans-fats, but they are an allergen and could cause a severe reaction for those with shellfish allergies. They are also high in cholesterol but as long as you’re not allergic to shellfish, moderate consumption of shrimp can be enjoyed will no ill effects.
  • Chicken or fish could be substituted for the shrimp. The sauce, without the protein, is fabulous ladled over fish, chicken, game or just about anything. A little on top of an omelet is fabulous.
  • Substitute vegetable stock for the seafood stock and you’ve got a wonderful vegetarian sauce. Skip the butter and use margarine, vegetable oil or olive oil with the vegetable stock and you’re on to a delicious vegan treat-of course you have to leave out the shrimp! Try it served over some sauteed or roasted eggplant or zucchini.
  • Most commercial creole seasoning contain salt, so keep that in mind when using it. This recipe was developed with salt free creole seasoning, so you may not need as much salt depending on your creole seasoning.

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Shrimp Creole on a plate with green onions and green beans
Classic Shrimp Creole
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Print Recipe
This is classic Creole fare-fresh shrimp simmered in a classic Creole Sauce. That's tomatoes smothered with the trinity of onions, bell peppers and celery in a little seafood stock and lots of creole herbs and spices. Served over rice, this is the ultimate Louisiana comfort food.
Servings Prep Time
12 Servings 35 Minutes
Cook Time Calories per Serving
90 Minutes 194
Servings Prep Time
12 Servings 35 Minutes
Cook Time Calories per Serving
90 Minutes 194
Shrimp Creole on a plate with green onions and green beans
Classic Shrimp Creole
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Print Recipe
This is classic Creole fare-fresh shrimp simmered in a classic Creole Sauce. That's tomatoes smothered with the trinity of onions, bell peppers and celery in a little seafood stock and lots of creole herbs and spices. Served over rice, this is the ultimate Louisiana comfort food.
Servings Prep Time
12 Servings 35 Minutes
Cook Time Calories per Serving
90 Minutes 194
Servings Prep Time
12 Servings 35 Minutes
Cook Time Calories per Serving
90 Minutes 194
This is What You Need
Herb and Spice Blend
This is What You Do
  1. Peel and rinse shrimp; pat dry; mix w/ 2 TBS creole seasoning; set aside. Crush tomatoes by hand and place in a strainer and set aside. Reserve liquid.
  2. In a heavy Dutch oven, heat butter over medium heat until bubbling; add veggies and sauté for about 20 minutes until starting to caramelize.
  3. Add the garlic and about half of the Herb and Spice Blend (not the bay leaves yet) and about 2/3 of the green onions. Mix well and sauté until aromatic - about 2 minutes.
  4. Mix in the AP flour and stir thoroughly. Cook about 2 to 3 minutes stirring constantly so it does not stick.
  5. Add the crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce and mix well. When it starts to simmer, add about half of the remaining Herb and Spice Blend, both bay leaves, the sugar and Worcestershire sauce. Mix well.
  6. Add in 2 TBS lemon juice, the lemon slices and one cup of the seafood stock (reserve the remaining stock). Mix well and bring back to a heavy simmer; lower the heat to a slight simmer and cook for 30 minutes uncovered, stirring often while it thickens.
  7. After 30 minutes, cover the dutch oven and continue to cook on low for another 30 minutes, stirring often so it does not stick. We are looking for a thick, smooth (but chunky) sauce, so remove the cover or leave the cover on, depending on how the thickening is coming along. If it gets too thick, add some of the reserved stock, if its not thick enough simmer with the cover off.
  8. At this point taste for seasoning. Add more if needed but remember that the shrimp will soak up a lot of the seasoning and salt so its fine if it seems over seasoned at this point. See Notes
  9. Increase the heat to med/high until just starting to simmer then add the shrimp. Mix well. Cover the dutch oven and cook for 5 minutes then turn off the heat and let sit for 5 more minutes, still covered.
  10. Remove the bay leaves and serve over rice sprinkled with green onions on top.
Recipe Notes

Most commercial creole seasoning contains salt, so keep that in mind when using it. This recipe was developed with salt free creole seasoning, so you may not need as much salt depending on your creole seasoning.

If you are not ready to eat, before you put in the shrimp, let it sit in the pot covered. When you're ready to eat. turn up the heat and continue on to adding the shrimp.

This can be refrigerate overnight, or even frozen to enjoy later. You can even freeze the sauce with out the shrimp, then add those fresh when you're ready to enjoy.

 

Nutrition Facts
Classic Shrimp Creole
Amount Per Serving
Calories 194 Calories from Fat 54
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 6g 9%
Saturated Fat 3g 15%
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 1g
Cholesterol 126mg 42%
Sodium 485mg 20%
Potassium 462mg 13%
Total Carbohydrates 18g 6%
Dietary Fiber 3g 12%
Sugars 9g
Protein 18g 36%
Vitamin A 20%
Vitamin C 55%
Calcium 13%
Iron 22%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.