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shrimp BBQ sauce mystery

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We were trying to duplicate a sauce served on shrimp in our favorite semi-Cajun restuarant, Howe's Bayou near Detroit. We think the sauce is mostly butter, molasses, hot sauce, a little lemon juice, a little garlic, salt and Worchestershire.
My wife dumped a dozen thawed, raw (previously frozen) shrimp into the pot, thinking it would be nice to cook them in the sauce.
Yech! The sauce changed flavor - all of a sudden the sweet molasses flavor disappeared. It became insipid with no depth.
We can't figure out why - chemistry? a bad shrimp in the bunch? Any good ideas?
thx
gary

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  1. I see two immediate problems to your recipe:
    1. Sauce - no molasses. Lots of butter, some olive oil, garlic, worcestershire sauce (decent amount), lemon juice, herbs (oreg, bay leaf, etc.) You melt this together. It's the w. sauce which gives the dish its depth, flavor and a little sweetness.
    2. Cooking - pour the sauce over the raw shrimp and bake.

    There are definitley lots of recipes out there for this dish. Try epicurious or even foodtv (Emeril - I hate to bring up his name - makes a great version in his restaurant and should have it posted on food tv site).

    6 Replies
    1. re: Brad K.

      Right on, Brad. But how about some black pepper and Tobasco sauce? And lots of garlic and lemon. Be sure to leave the shells and heads on them shrimps, too.

      1. re: Greg Spence
        j
        John McKelvey

        BARBECUED SHRIMP
        Serves four

        Ingredients:

        2 lbs. large shrimp, unpeeled but rinsed and butterflied

        Sauce:
        2 sticks unsalted butter
        4-6 tablespoons olive oil
        4 tablespoons chili sauce
        2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
        Juice of one lemon
        One lemon, thinly sliced
        4 garlic cloves, minced
        2 teaspoons minced fresh parsley
        1 ½ teaspoons cayenne
        ¾ teaspoon or less liquid smoke (Be careful)
        1 teaspoon paprika
        1 teaspoon dried oregano
        ½ teaspoon hot pepper sauce
        Salt
        Freshly ground black pepper

        French bread

        Directions:

        Wash shrimp well and pat dry Spread in a shallow baking pan. Combine other sauce ingredients and simmer 10 minutes. Pour sauce over shrimp and mix thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate for 3 hours, stirring every 30 minutes.
        Preheat oven to 300 °. Bake shrimp, uncovered, turning frequently until they turn pink, about 15 to 20 minutes. Serve in bowl with French bread.

        Also good with rice.

        1. re: Greg Spence

          Watch it!
          Now you are making me hungry...

          1. re: Brad K.

            So, guys, why do they call it BBQ'd shrimp when it's actually baked? Or is it the sauce that qualifies it as BBQ? Thanks.

            1. re: berkleybabe

              That's a really good question. It has pepper and is pretty smokey. Qualities of Texas barbecue, I'd say. But I've never heard of any genre of barebecue that involves butter...

              BTW, can any New Orleans food historians confirm that Pascal Manale's was the first person to offer this dish? I know they are the ones that made it famous, but were they the first? If they were and they called it barbecue shrimp, we'd have to ask them.

              1. re: Carter B.

                Questioning the origin of names in Louisiana often seems to lead either to more questions or a dead end. Basically, they call it that because that's what it's called. Or, maybe because it is often served at outdoor barbecues.

                I've never seen (except here) a recipe that called for liquid smoke, which I find tastes like dirt, or Chili Sauce, which I took to mean the catsup based product. Leave 'em out. BTW, in nice weather I do cook mine outside on the grill (in a pan) but I'm not sure that changes the flavor much.

                Try this: Butter, lemon juice, garlic, black pepper, Tabasco, Lea & Perrins, dry white wine, head on shrimp, and a little salt and some herbs if you like. Cook 'til shrimp are done and serve with lots of good french bread and a roll of paper towels for wipein'.

      2. I think the basics ingredients have to be:

        1) a stick of butter for every lb. of shrimp (not a sauce for the weak of heart)

        2) 2 T (or more) of Worch. sauce.

        3) 1 T (or a good bit more if you are like me) of black pepper.

        Everything else is just extra, and to be honest, would probably get lost in the flavor of the dish.