Mardi Gras is here!! You better pull out the Zatarans!
In general, Cajun dishes are the country cooking of Louisiana, highlighted by dirty rice, gumbos, jambalaya, andouille (pronounced ahnd-wee or ahn-do-wee, it’s a spicy smoked sausage) and simple foods such as fried catfish. Cajun cooking traditionally uses pork fat and simpler ingredients.
Creole is the food of the city, a more refined cuisine represented by Oysters Rockefeller, Shrimp Remoulade and Bananas Foster. It traditionally used the butter available to the wealthy Creoles, and more expensive ingredients.
Some people will tell you that if a dish has tomatoes, it’s Creole, not Cajun. That isn’t always true. Tomatoes have been known to turn up in jambalaya or gumbo, which are both Cajun.
Both Cajun and Creole use the “Holy Trinity” of New Orleans cooking: green peppers, onions and celery. They both also rely on the roux (pronounced ‘Roo) as the base of the dish. A Roux is simply flour cooked in fat, either pork fat or butter, until it browns. This adds flavor and thickness to the dish.
1 lb shrimp
3 Tbs butter
¾ cup onion, coarsely chopped
3 small celery ribs, coarsely chopped
1 sweet green pepper, cored, seeded, and coarsely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
2 cups canned tomatoes, preferably Italian tomatoes
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
Tabasco sauce to taste
½ tsp grated lemon rind
Salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste
2 Tbs parsley, finely chopped
Juice of ½ lemon
Shell and de-vein the shrimp. Rinse and pat dry. Set aside.
Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the onion. Cook, stirring, until the onion is wilted, and add the celery, green pepper, and garlic. Cook briefly, stirring. The vegetables must remain crisp.
Add the tomatoes, thyme, bay leaf, Tabasco, lemon rind, salt, and pepper. Simmer 10 minutes uncovered.
Add the shrimp and cover. Cook 3 to 5 minutes, no longer. Add the chopped parsley, lemon juice, and, if desired, more Tabasco sauce to taste.
Serve with rice.