Had Forrest Gump never become a 1990s instant classic movie, we would have never seen the South’s most lovable lug fall in love with Jenny. We would have missed Forrest playing football for Coach Bear Bryant at Alabama, and taking the proverbial ‘bullet-in-the-buttocks’ in the jungles of Vietnam. But most importantly, we would have never learned from our friend Bubba the endless ways that one can prepare shrimp. A list that makes me think of the diverse cuisines and cultures that love shrimp.
Popular around the world are dried shrimp, containing the sought after ‘fifth sense’ of flavor, umami. Sometimes eaten as a snack, ground in to a paste for sauces, or dropped in broths to flavor soups and stews; dried shrimp can be found in markets from China to Mexico. Caribbean, Central and South American, and Pacific cultures all enjoy versions of shrimp ceviche — cooked by acid and not heat. Even preserving and pickling in some Scandinavian cultures. But having tried quite a few styles from around the world, I believe the Southern Gulf States really have a hold on how to do shrimp justice.
Gulf shrimp is a staple for most chefs’ menus from Florida to Texas. Sweet, salty, and amazingly versatile, we have arguably some of the best shrimp in the world. There are four main species in our home waters: brown, white, pink, and royal red. Each has their own unique taste and texture. White Shrimp are mild and tend to be caught in places where the salinity is lower than open water. They’ll camouflage into your dish well. Brown Shrimp are a little more robust and do well in spicier sauces and stews. Pink Shrimp are sweet and pair well with something smoky and salty. And Royal Red Shrimp are most known for their depth of both saltiness and sweetness and certainly don’t need a sauce to shine at all.
So what’s my go to recipe for Gulf Shrimp? None other than BBQ Shrimp, a dish that ironically has absolutely nothing to do with barbecue. Made at a customer’s request at Pascal’s Manale in Uptown New Orleans, the dish made quite an impact and can now be found on menus across the country. Here’s a version you definitely don’t want to miss.
- 1 ½ lbs. Jumbo Gulf Shrimp, Head On
- (10-15 count)
- 2 Cloves Fresh Minced Garlic
- 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire
- 2 Tablespoons Italian Dressing
- ½ Tablespoon Creole Seasoning (more to taste if needed)
- 1 Stick Butter (cut in half)
- ½ cup Chardonnay
Pat shrimp try with paper-towel. In a hot skillet, add first five ingredients and half of butter. Sauté 3 to 4 minutes until shrimp begin to change color and butter is fully incorporated. Add wine. Bring back to heat, stirring often. Add remaining butter and incorporate. Total cooking time should be 8-10 minutes in skillet. Serve with crusty French bread or over grits.