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Jan 31, 2010 02:18 PM

February 2010 COTM: Louisiana Kitchen FISH AND SEAFOOD

Welcome to the FISH AND SEAFOOD thread for the February 2010 Cookbook of the Month, Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen.

Please post your reviews of Fish and Seafood recipes here.

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  1. Seafood Dirty Rice (half recipe)

    My first attempt with Cajun cuisine (and COTM) was Seafood Dirty Rice. I started by making the basic shrimp stock. It simmered for 7+ hours. This is the first time I’ve let a seafood stock go this long, most seafood stock recipes I’ve followed are typically done in an hour or less. I was questioning whether the 8 hours of simmering was for the meat stock only, but I did it anyway. I also used this stock to make the basic cooked rice. After tasting the cooked rice by itself, I was concerned that this dish might not excite me. Part of it might be is that I’m used to eating shorter grained, starchier rice (Japanese short grain, Spanish Bomba or Italian Carnaroli).

    The dish comes together pretty quickly once the stock and rice are made. This recipe starts by cooking the trinity (celery, onion, and green pepper) in a tomato sauce that reduces down. You then add the shrimp stock which is also reduced. Cooking down all of those flavors really intensifies and deepens the taste. The heat level on this was very present, but not overwhelming for us. I did use canned lump crab meat (I may splurge next time and use fresh crab. I think it would elevate the dish further) and I reduced the amount of oil, butter and cream. Next time I will eliminate the butter from the rice and use even less oil, butter and cream to see if this is something I can make more consistently. We really enjoyed the concentrated flavors that seasoned the rice and the subtle sweetness of the shrimp and crab. It made for a good combination and no leftovers.

    Here’s a link to the recipes for those that don’t have the book.

    10 Replies
    1. re: BigSal

      What kind of tomato sauce did you use?

      1. re: MMRuth

        I just used a storebought sauce I had in the pantry (kind of a plain one, not a herb rich one). I have some of Batali's sauce in the freezer, but I thought all of the thyme might change the flavor profile. I also have Marcella's sauce (onion and butter), but I wanted to save that for another use. :)

      2. re: BigSal

        Thanks for the report. This one is on my list.

        1. re: BigSal

          I finally got around to making something from this book, and we loved it. Made the Seafood Dirty Rice. Purists please stop reading here because I cheated and used clam juice instead of making the shrimp stock. Aside from that (and only using about a pound of shrimp instead of a pound and a half) I followed the recipe, keeping the spice level, etc. Really great. Husband was absolutely beside himself. Made the rice (I used long grain, since that is what I tend to have in the house) a day or two before, and with that and the clam juice, this was easy to put together and it was absolutely delicious. Love the crab in there.

          1. re: LulusMom

            I find clam juice makes a fine substitute when I don't have seafood or shrimp stock.

            Glad to hear this recipe was a winner--gives me something new to cook from LK. From your photo, I gather the consistency of the finished dish is closer to risotto than, say, paella?

            1. re: nomadchowwoman

              Yes, I would say it was somewhat wetter than paella, but then again, maybe that half pound of shrimp would have helped make it look thicker (although I doubt it). We seriously loved this, and highly recommend it. My husband said "it isn't the shrimp with chinese chives but it sure comes close" (note: the Dunlop recipe mentioned here is his very favorite shrimp recipe, so this is high praise).

              And I'm so happy to hear that a seasoned NO cook like yourself sometimes cheats on the shrimp stock too. Thank you!

              1. re: nomadchowwoman

                Hmmm, just replied to this but it didn't seem to take.

                Thanks so much - a seasoned NO cook like yourself sometimes resorting to the cheat of clam juice makes me feel better about it. And yes, this was on the wetter side. It really was a huge hit, husband LOVED it, and I was pleased too. I definitely say give it a try. I served with a simple green salad, and it was a perfect meal.

                1. re: LulusMom

                  Sometimes I really cheat and mix it w/canned chicken broth.

              2. re: LulusMom

                Glad to hear that this recipe was a hit with you. Thanks for reminding me about substituting clam stock - that could really make this dish a week night meal.

                1. re: BigSal

                  Honestly, you make the rice and chop the veg. earlier, and it takes no time at all for a truly great meal (if you cheat with the clam stuff).

            2. I have made chicken sauce piquant many times over the last 10-15 years. p. 140. It is always a hit when I take it to pot lucks. It makes alot of food so its perfect for pot lucks. It can be very spicy. The secret to making it, is cooking the chicken, If you follow the instructions as I did the first time you can burn the chicken. You do not need to use home made chicken stock. Low sodium stock works just as well and is not as greasy. I have been asked for the recipe many times. It takes about two hours to make.

              1. Shrimp Sauce Piquant (half recipe)

                I chose this recipe because I wanted to use more of the shrimp stock I had made and it was a healthy dish (only 1 T of added fat for 4 servings). I cooked this a couple days in advance to not only have a prepared meal ready to go after work, but also because the book recommends that you do so. Another very simple recipe to put together. I substituted canned San Marzanos for the fresh tomatoes and I also used canned jalapenos. Wow, is this dish spicy!! I knew it would have some kick given the name, but I was not prepared for this level of spice. My mouth was burning from the first bite and after dinner it is still smoldering a little. It is hard to talk about the flavor since the heat was so overwhelming. I may be up to trying this again, but I would definitely use half of the spices. Here is a copy of the recipe for those who like it hot.

                4 Replies
                1. re: BigSal

                  I also tried to make shrimp sauce piquant. I also found it too hot. I can eat hot food but this was way too hot. I have also found that the jamalayas are also too hot. no explanations. Other recipes seem to be ok hot but enjoyable. .

                  1. re: bgazindad

                    Thanks for the warning on the jambalayas. I too like spicy (hot) food, but this was too much for me. I gather that the level of spice on the chicken sauce piquant is not off the charts or have you made adjustments to the recipe?

                    1. re: BigSal

                      Its hot but manageable. I think its because there is so much chicken. The recipe calls for two fryers. I do have to make an adjustment when I used just opened red pepper. If so, I do not add the jalapenos.

                  2. re: BigSal

                    You're not alone in the "too much heat" group. Seems like that's been a pretty consistent comment in the threads about these recipes.
                    Do not be afraid to ignore the amounts given for peppers, cayenne, hot sauce, whatever.
                    Contrary to popular myth, neither Cajun nor Creole food is particularly hot. Yes, there are a few things, like boiled seafood that can be pretty peppery, but most things aren't. Some of it is almost bland, even if the title says "Piquant." That refers more to the cooking style than the heat for most families.
                    There will however be a bottle of hot sauce on the table. Crystal, Louisiana Hot, Panola, Tabasco, or another favorite.

                  3. Barbecued Shrimp, p. 88

                    I've made these lots of times, and they're always good, but I always make several adjustments, esp. to butter and pepper. This time, I used only eight (jumbo) shrimp, which I'd gotten at the farmer's market. They had heads so I snipped the eyes off w/kitchen shears; I also sliced through the shell so I could devein them, a step I (and DH especially) deem necessary. All something of a pain, but there were only eight shrimp. In a medium skillet, I melted over pretty high heat about 2 1/2 T. butter and added about 1 tsp. minced garlic, 1/2 tsp. worcestershire, and the spice mix (I used amounts for half recipe overall, except that I used only 1/4 tsp. cayenne and I forgot about the crushed peppers altogether). I then added the shrimp and cooked it, using Prudhomme's shaking method, for about 2 min. I then added 1 1/2 T. butter and 1/4 c. shrimp stock, cooked, shaking pan, another 2 min. I then added 2 T. beer and cooked another minute or two. We ate them w/ciabatta b/c that's what I had, and they were delicious.

                    Since I had only eight shrimp, I halved the recipe for most ingredients, but b/c I find most of LK's recipes too (spicy) hot, I cut the red pepper in half again. I also used a total of 4 T. butter (instead of the 6 1/2 that LK would call for in half a recipe), which was plenty. We had enough buttery goodness for two dippers and the shrimp were extremely flavorful. The bit of beer really seems to add a dimension here that I don't detect in other versions of the BBQ shrimp (misnomer as none of these preparations have anything to do w/BBQ) that is pretty ubiquitous in New Orleans.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: nomadchowwoman

                      Funny, I have to devein shrimp as well. And, to make it worse, I have to devein both sides. But, it's worth it, to me, in the end. C couldn't care less, but I guess my mom beat it into my head, one time too often.

                      1. re: nomadchowwoman

                        I promised back in the discussion thread to post my lower butter version of Barbecued Shrimp, so here it is.

                        For 1 lb of shrimp:

                        Seasoning mix:
                        1/4 tsp cayenne
                        1/4 tsp black pepper
                        no salt
                        1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
                        1/2 tsp thyme leaves
                        1 tsp rosemary
                        1/4 tsp oregano

                        3 tbsp butter in all
                        1 1/2 tsp minced garlic
                        1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
                        1 c shrimp stock
                        1/4 c beer

                        Melt 1 tbsp butter in a non-stick skillet. Add garlic, Worcestershire sauce, and seasoning and cook for 2 minutes. Add stock and beer. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Add shrimp and cook until pink. Add remaining 2 tbsp of butter to enrich the broth, shaking the pan as directed.

                        The real key here is to make an excellent shrimp stock, because that takes over from the butter to become the dipping sauce. Like nomadchowwoman, I cut back the peppers a lot. I bumped up the rosemary because I like it, but the measurement also depends on how compactly the needles pack when you measure them.

                        I'm not claiming this version would win in a side-by-side comparison with the original, but it's still mighty tasty.

                      2. Shrimp Diane, p. 86

                        Mmmm...buttery and delicious. We loved this. I followed the recipe as is, but instead of head-on shrimp, I used a pound of large shell-on shrimp, and instead of using the heads to make stock, I used the stock from simmering shrimp for Shrimp Remoulade that I had strained and frozen (shrimp stock with bay leaves and dried spices).

                        The sauce is made with butter, salt, cayenne, black and white pepper, dried basil, thyme, and oregano, shrimp stock, scallions, mushrooms (I used cremini) and parsley. He mentions elsewhere that the pan shaking method is better than stirring for keeping the sauce creamy. I served it with warm crusty bread to dip in the buttery sauce. So good, though you could definitely cut the butter down if you wanted.

                        Recipe link:

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Rubee

                          Oh, Rubee, I always drool over your photos. We love this dish, too. I am planning on making it tomorrow.