How do you stuff a shrimp?
The short answer is you don’t. The dish is called stuffed shrimp because a traditional seafood stuffing is wrapped around a shrimp tail, battered, and fried until golden. I suppose the name was a natural progression being that the stuffing used is very similar, if not exactly the same, as the stuffing restaurants use to stuff flounder, redfish, crabs, and grouper among other treasures of The Gulf.
Stuffed shrimp deconstructed
Once you read how to make stuffed shrimp you will soon understand that this is a very economical dish. A single pound of shrimp can feed 4-6 people as the serving size is 2-3 per person. When visiting a local Cajun restaurant you will find that the serving size is 4-6 depending on the price. Ask for a to go box early, you will need it.
To make the stuffing you will basically make a shrimp stock and thicken it with bread crumbs to the point that it becomes a solid. Sounds easy right? Well it is. A shrimp stock is nothing more than onions, garlic, dry white wine, shrimp shells, shrimp tail meat, and dry seasonings. It cooks for a whopping 30 minutes and it’s done. No wonder this dish has been a Cajun restaurant staple since the 70’s.
Note: Dried, plain bread crumbs are called for in this recipe because it is what restaurant cooks have used for years. But the flavor, while nostalgic, is predictable. If you want to elevate the dish, try using fresh bread crumbs made from a loaf of french bread.
- 1lb. Louisiana Gulf Shrimp (21-25 ct.)
- 2med. White onions (finely chopped)
- 1med. Bell pepper (finely chopped)
- 3cloves Fresh garlic (finely chopped)
- 2C Dry White wine
- 2C Water
- 1med. Lemon (juiced)
- 1lb. Box dried, plain, bread crumbs
- Kosher salt, all purpose seasoning, and black pepper to taste.
- 2lg. Eggs
- 2C Milk
- 3C Flour
- Enough canola oil for deep frying.
Peel the shrimp and reserve 12-13 with the tail tips intact.
Chop enough remaining shrimp tail meat to make one cup.
Also make sure to reserve the shells and heads.
Place a medium stock pot over high heat and add the wine, water, and bring to a boil.
Add shrimp peelings and heads, reduce to simmer, and cook for 10-15 minutes.
Remove the peelings and heads and discard.
Add the onions, garlic, and dry seasonings to taste, cooking until the onions are soft (about 10 minutes).
Add the chopped shrimp and cook for 3-5 minutes.
Remove from heat and add 2C of bread crumbs stirring well to incorporate.
Note: It is important to wait a minute or two before adding additional bread crumbs so that they may fully absorb all of the liquid they can hold.
Check the consistency. You are looking for a mixture that can be molded, but is still moist.
Add additional bread crumbs 2 tablespoons at a time until the right consistency is reached.
Taste and adjust seasoning.
Spread the mixture out on a cookie sheet to speed cooling.
Preheat cooking oil to 350°.
Beat the eggs well, add the milk, and season fairly heavily with salt, pepper, and all purpose seasoning.
Season the flour in the same manner.
Press the tails of the reserved shrimp along their backs in order to straighten them. The meat will tear slightly.
Note: It is important to wet your hands when dealing with the stuffing as it is very sticky.
Place a heaping Tbsp. of stuffing in the palm of your hand, and press a shrimp tail into the stuffing leaving the tail tip exposed.
Mold the stuffing around the shrimp so that no shrimp tail meat is exposed.
Repeat for the remaining shrimp.
Batter the 4 stuffed shrimp for normal frying, which is egg wash then flour, at a time.
Fry for 3-4 minutes until the crust is golden.
Let rest for 3-5 minutes as the stuffing will be very hot.
When is the best time to enjoy stuffed shrimp?
Seafood is right at home on the Cajun table at Thanksgiving. This rich, flavorful Cajun treat will be fought over. Be sure to have plenty of tartar sauce on hand. And while Thanksgiving would be a great time, stuffed shrimp can be easily prepared anytime you want a little flavor from your favorite Cajun restaurant right in your own kitchen.