Shrimp Creole

Cooking with Chiles: Spicy Meat, Seafood, Noodle, Rice, and Vegetable-Forward Recipes from Around the World by Clifford WrightJames Beard Award-winning author Clifford Wright is your guide to some of the world’s most flavorful and spicy cuisines with 75 authentic recipes featuring chili pepper heat.

From salsa roja of Mexico to the kimchi of Korea, Cooking with Chiles presents these recipes with delicious accuracy and authenticity.

Each recipe is marked with an icon indicating the dish’s heat level, so it’s easy to identify recipes that will be appropriate for any occasion—from mild to fiery.

If you’re a spicy-food lover always on the lookout for that next hot thing, then Cooking with Chiles is where your quest ends.

Cooking with Chiles: Spicy Meat, Seafood, Noodle, Rice, and Vegetable-Forward Recipes from Around the World is available at and  

Shrimp Creole

Recipes of every kind abound for this well-known Louisiana dish. But there are certain ingredients that always appear in shrimp Creole, namely shrimp, tomatoes, onions, and chiles. Some cooks also add Tabasco or Worcestershire sauce.

Creole cooking was born in New Orleans in the early eighteenth century as a mixture of three basic traditions: French, Spanish, and Afro-Caribbean. There were other influences, including Sicilian, Native American, and Mexican. As Paul Prudhomme pointed out, Creole cooking is a sophisticated city cooking that exists only in the home today, as restaurants have blended the distinction between Creole and Cajun.

This recipe is adapted from an unattributed source in a New Orleans promotion on a travel website, but I feel that it must come from a very good cook because it evidences not only a good taste but a sophisticated balance of flavors. The use of Scotch bonnet chiles in this recipe, rather than the more common use of jalapeño or serrano, points to an early introduction by Afro-Caribbean cooks. This dish is traditionally eaten with rice.

3 pounds fresh jumbo shrimp with their heads or 1½ pounds headless jumbo shrimp, heads and/or shells removed and reserved

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

2 teaspoons salt, or more to your taste

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more to your taste

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 medium-size onion, finely chopped

12 scallions, white and light green parts only, finely chopped

4 shallots, finely chopped

6 large garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 fresh Scotch bonnet chiles or fresh habanero chiles, seeded and finely chopped

One ½-inch cube fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped

1½ teaspoons curry powder

2¼ pounds ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped

1 cup finely chopped fresh parsley leaves

¼ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped

1 bay leaf

1⁄3 cup dark rum

2 tablespoons tomato paste

Makes 6 servings


  1. Put the shrimp heads and/or shells in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until needed.
  2. Place the shrimp in a large bowl and pour the lime juice over them. Season with salt and black pepper and set aside until needed.
  3. In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat, then cook the onion, scallions, shallots, 5 of the garlic cloves, the chiles, ginger, and curry powder until the mixture is soft and yellow, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, ½ cup of the parsley, the cilantro, thyme, and bay leaf. Increase the heat to high and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in the rum and bring to a boil.
  4. Strain the shrimp broth. Add 1 cup of the shrimp broth and the tomato paste to the skillet, reserving the rest for another use. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, stirring frequently, until thickened, about 20 minutes.
  5. Add the shrimp to the skillet, reduce the heat to low, and stir to coat the shrimp with the sauce. Simmer, turning occasionally, until the shrimp are curled and orange-pink, about 5 minutes. Stir in the remaining garlic and cook 1 minute. Sprinkle with the remaining ½ cup parsley and cook 1 minute.

Serve immediately.

Fresh Shrimp

Fresh shrimp as described in my recipes means never-having-been frozen shrimp. Fresh shrimp is nearly impossible to find and I’m able to track it down only once a year. Nearly all commercial shrimp is flash-frozen, and what you are eating when you buy shrimp at the supermarket or fish store is defrosted shrimp. Is there really such a difference? Yes, there is. I know people brought up on fresh shrimp who refuse to eat frozen shrimp because you might as well eat imitation crabmeat. Fresh shrimp are always sold with heads on. If you ever encounter them, buy ten pounds and make a bunch of shrimp recipes.

Recipe reprinted with permission from Harvard Common Press.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.