Pickled Shrimp Salad

Pickled shrimp are a Southern favorite for even the most modest alfresco summer occasion, a solid recommendation for your next kegger. Use nothing smaller than a 26/30 count shrimp, though 21/25 is ideal. Boil, peel, and if you’re the persnickety type, devein. For five pounds of shrimp, mix with two white onions (yellow are too sweet, and red will bleed) thinly sliced, a few fresh bay leaves, a cup of diced sweet pickled red peppers, a cup of rice vinegar, a cup of vegetable oil, a small jar of capers (with liquid), two tablespoons of good Italian herb blend, and a tablespoon of coarse black pepper. Toss until shrimp are coated, cover, and chill overnight. In season, add diced ripe summer tomatoes before spooning over leaf greens and drizzling with marinade.

Dilled Shrimp

Shrimp usually come to my table well-peppered, but in the soupy heat of a Mississippi summer, a cooler alternative is refreshing. In Scandinavia, where fish and shellfish of all types are staves of life, shrimp is often seasoned with dill, usually in combination with horseradish. In Sweden, shrimp is boiled in a bouillon of water, vinegar, beer and sugar before saucing, but boiling in lightly salted water with lemons and bay leaves works just as well if—as I do—you really don’t feel like wasting a beer. Devein if you’re the squeamish sort, then toss with a sauce of one part mayonnaise to one part sour cream (or cream fraiche, if you happen to have some on hand…) with plenty of dill, a hint of horseradish and salt to taste. A few minced capers are nice, and you can throw in a little white pepper for a bit of bite. Serve over leaf greens with onion, toasted rye, boiled eggs (preferably pickled) and thinly–sliced garden-fresh cucumber (not those bloated watery things you find in the grocery store). Lemon wedges are a required garnish, but limes are prettier.

Roots Remoulade

Though the Larousse Gastronomique is considered by many the final court of authority on Gallic cuisine, that monumental work is not without an occasional chink in its venerable armor. One small perforation involves its recipe for a remoulade, which calls for a cup of mayonnaise with two tablespoons mixed herbs (parsley, chives, chervil and tarragon), one tablespoon drained capers, two finely diced cornichons and a few drops of anchovy essence (optional). No doubt this mixture is savory, subtle and delicious, but let us note that the Librairie Larousse was a Parisian publishing house specializing in encyclopedias and dictionaries, and as such I find it odd (I can’t quite call it inaccurate) that this recipe ignores the origins of the word “rémoulade” itself, which is derived from the dialectal French, rémola, with origins in the Latin word for horseradish, armoracea.

Given this (impeccable) classical precedent, I find it altogether appropriate that any recipe for a remoulade, be it white, red or green (yes, children, there is a green remoulade, made by adding spinach) should include horseradish. And yes, anchovies are a nice accent.

Creole Shrimp and Beans

You’ll find dishes with beans and seafood across the globe, and while this recipe is styled “Creole” a very similar Italian recipe uses diced tomatoes. You can use tomatoes in this as well, simply add them with the shrimp.

Put a pound of dried white beans (Navy, northern, or baby limas) in a heavy saucepan, add three cups of water, cover, and place in a 300 oven for about two hours, until cooked through A bay leaf or two is a nice touch. Sauté a large white onion, a cup of diced celery, and a diced ripe sweet pepper with a couple of minced cloves of garlic in olive oil. When the vegetables are soft, add a pound of peeled, medium-count shrimp and cook over medium heat until firm. Combine the shrimp and vegetables with the beans. Add the diced tomatoes, if you like. Season with dried basil and thyme, ground black pepper, chopped fresh parsley, and salt to taste. You can make this as soupy as you like by adding weak stock. Some people add diced smoked sausage or ham, and the dish is usually served over rice.

About Boiling Shrimp

Don’t bring shrimp to a boil.; the water should sourer, “smile,” heated to that steamy, shimmering just-before-boiling point, the shrimp stirred to distribute the heat and cook thoroughly before draining and icing. If the shells are loose, the shrimp is over-cooked.

Paul Crechale’s Bienville

Nowadays most discussions—more often polemics—about culinary authenticity involve terms such as “the salience of ethnic identity” and “aligning broader socio-political representations”. These investigations certainly have their place in this global franchise we call a world, but when it comes to a specific restaurant recipe, we’re on less esoteric footing. We know that at some point in time, at this particular place, a recipe was formulated, prepared and served, a recipe that became an archetype for any that followed, and our best means of replicating such dishes is to find recipes written by people who are thoroughly familiar with the original and have the wherewithal to replicate it with authority.

Such is the case with Arnaud’s signature recipe for oysters Bienville in Bayou Cuisine that’s credited to Jackson restaurateur Paul Crechale. This recipe rings with authenticity and authority. Note the use of a beige roux to thicken, cream and egg yolks to enrich, mushrooms, shrimp and a hard dry cheese for substance.

Prepare the sauce by browning lightly in 3 tablespoons butter 2 minced onions. Stir in 3 tablespoons flour and cook, stirring constantly until the mixture is lightly browned. Be sure not to let it burn. Add gradually 1 ½ cups chicken consommé, ½ cup white wine, 1 cup minced raw mushrooms and 1 ½ cups chopped cooked shrimp. Cook slowly, stirring constantly, for 10 minutes. Open 3 dozen oysters and put them in their deep shells (my italics, jly) on individual baking dishes. Bake the oysters in their own juices in a moderate oven (350) for about 6 minutes. Thicken sauce with 2 egg yolks beaten with 2 tablespoons heavy cream and heat the sauce without boiling. Cover each oyster with some of the sauce and sprinkle lightly with equal parts of dry bread crumbs and grated Parmesan or Romano cheese. Return the oysters to the oven for about 10 minutes, until the topping is browned.