When I lived in San Francisco in the 1990’s, one of my favorite restaurants was Cha Cha Cha in the Mission. The menu is Cuban and Puerto Rican inspired while also fusing some of the best of many other cuisines.
I recently came across the restaurant’s cookbook in the used cookbook store in New Orleans (Kitchen Witch). The literary revisiting of their restaurant made me hungry and sent me to the kitchen to cook. One of the dishes that I really liked, I fixed for my folks this week. Cha Cha Cha Cajun Shrimp is a tapas dish there and is colorful and flavorful. It can be a little spicy, so I dropped the spice level from the original (1 1/2 cups!). Serve it with lots of crusty bread to dip into the delicious sauce.
We ate it as a main course after doubling everything and served it with rosemary sweet potatoes medallions.
I will be returning to their cookbook for other recipes soon!
Cha Cha Cha Cajun Shrimp
1/2 cup Cajun Spice Mix
12 ounce dark beer
2 cups heavy cream
1 lb peeled medium sized shrimp
In a heavy saucepan, mix cajun spice mix and beer. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a whisk to make a thick paste. Gradually stir in cream to make a smooth sauce. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally for 8 to 10 minutes or until sauce thickens. Add shrimp and stir. Reduce heat and cook shrimp over low heat for 2-3 minutes or until shrimp are opaque. Serve with fresh, crusty bread.
My dad will pull a shrimp trawl several times over the summer and then we get to enjoy Alabama shrimp for the rest of the year. Here is a picture of him sorting the catch – we throw all the small fish back and the dolphins and pelicans come to feast.
This recipe uses a dry spice mix on the veggies and a one hour marinade on the shrimp for a quick, weeknight dinner. I served these on flour tortillas with refried beans, cheese, salsa and guacamole.
The picture illustrates my family’s preferred shrimp to veggie ratio!
Oven Baked Shrimp Fajitas
1.5 to 2 lbs medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 to 2 14.4 packages of bell pepper and onion stir fry
10 flour tortillas
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine or balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup lime juice
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
3 cloves minced garlic
Veggie Spice Mix
1 teaspoon of kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon of chili powder
1 teaspoon dried cilantro flakes
½ teaspoon of garlic powder
½ teaspoon of onion powder
½ teaspoon of ground cumin
½ teaspoon of smoked paprika
Whisk together all of the ingredients for the shrimp marinade and place in a zip top bag with the peeled and deveined shrimp. Smoosh the bag around to completely coat the shrimp. Place in the fridge for one hour.
Put together the dry spices. Place the veggies in a large bowl and toss with the spice mixture.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
Lightly oil a large, rimmed baking sheet. Put down the veggies as a base layer. Sprinkle the shrimp on top. Place in the middle of the oven and bake for about 8 minutes. Remove the shrimp and turn on the broiler. Cook for 2 additional minutes until shrimp is done.
Squeeze a little lime juice over the dish and serve with warm tortillas and your choice of add ins.
I was craving drunken shrimp and decided to put them on flour tortillas to make quesadillas for a quick dinner.
Oh, and feel free to use the remainder of the limeade concentrate to make margaritas. I used drained Ro-Tel juice as part of the liquid for Spanish rice.
1 lb medium shrimp – peeled, deveined and butterflied
1 tablespoon paprika
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 cup limeade concentrate
1/2 cup tequila
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups Monterey pepper jack or cheddar cheese, grated
1 10 ounce can of Ro-tel diced tomatoes and green chilies, drained
8 flour tortillas
Combine paprika, garlic, salt, pepper, cumin, limeade and tequila and mix well. Place shrimp in marinade and refrigerate for no more than one hour.
Heat a large skillet with the oil and sauté shrimp and the marinade until shrimp are cooked through. Remove from heat.
Place 4 tortillas on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with cheese. Arrange shrimp on tortillas and sprinkle on Ro-Tel. Top with more cheese. Place remaining tortillas on top.
Bake until the tortilla is crisp and golden brown and the cheese is melted and bubbly, about 5 minutes at 450 degrees F. Let sit for 2 minutes and then cut into slices. Serve with guacamole, salsa and sour cream and a side of Spanish rice.
I basically do a cheat for the Spanish rice. This is enough for two people. Bring 1/3 cup of drained Ro-Tel juices and 1/3 cup water to a boil. Add two tablespoons of Ro-Tel diced tomatoes and green chilies, 1/4 teaspoon each of garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder and ground cumin to 1/3 cup rice. Stir well, cover and reduce heat to low. Cook until all the water is absorbed and serve.
I was over at my parents’ house and we decided to experiment on grilled shrimp. We were looking for both hot and sweet, so we decided to go with honey and hot sauce. But what sort of heat? For this trial we divided the shrimp in half and used Sriracha in one batch and for the other we used good old Louisiana hot sauce.
The Sriracha had a rounder, more full flavor, although the Louisiana hot sauce was still pretty tasty. Try it with your favorite hot sauce!
Hot Honey Shrimp
1 lb uncooked shrimp, look for medium or large
1/4 cup honey
1 1/2 teaspoon (or more to taste) hot sauce
1/2 stick butter, melted
1 tablespoon lime juice
Use scissors to cut the back of the shrimp shells and remove the vein. Place the rinsed and drained shrimp in a quart bag.
Microwave honey for about 15 seconds until it has loosened a bit. Mix with a hot sauce of your choice. Pour over the shrimp and massage to coat. Let marinade for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
Set up the grill for direct cooking. Place the shrimp on the grill and baste with melted butter and lime juice. Grill one side and flip over after 2-3 minutes and the shrimp are starting to go pink. Baste again and cook until done through.
You can serve this with rice or make tacos with it or, be like us, and just sit and peel and eat until you’re ready to bust. Mmmmhmmm, good!
The Court of the Two Sisters , in the heart of the French Quarter, is a good spot to dine outdoors, especially for their jazz brunch and if you’re looking to have a romantic dinner. While pricey and a bit touristy, their food is quite good. In fact, their recipe for Shrimp Toulouse was one of the first recipes that I altered to made it my own (trust me, you don’t really need a pound of butter!).
2 pounds medium shrimp peeled and deveined
6 tablespoons butter, softened and divided
1 medium onion, diced
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup diced green bell pepper
1 cup diced red bell pepper
2 teaspoons Creole seasoning
1 cup white wine
Heat 1 tablespoon of butter in a large cast iron skillet. Add onions and sauté until translucent. Add 2 tablespoons of butter and, once it is melted, add the mushrooms, garlic and green and red bell peppers. Sauté vegetables for a few moments before adding the Creole seasoning. Stir well and then pour in the white wine. Bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is reduced by half. Add in the shrimp and stir until they are pink and cooked through. Finally, stir in remaining butter, a tablespoon at a time, over low heat. When all butter is incorporated, remove from heat.
Serve over rice.
Make your own Creole seasoning – it tastes better than most store bought! Adjust from the recipe below to your palate.
1/3 cup kosher salt
1/3 cup paprika
1/4 cup granulated garlic
4 tablespoons onion powder
1/3 cup freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons white pepper
2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons dried thyme
2 tablespoons dried basil
1 tablespoon dried oregano
Combine all ingredients and place in an airtight jar or plastic container.
I was flipping through a family recipe book and came across one from my Great Uncle Garrett Griggs. He basically took 2 pounds of shrimp, two sticks of butter and some salt and pepper, tossed it all together and made a dish of delicious broiled shrimp.
I decided to update the family recipe with my version of blackening spice but to leave most of the rest intact because…well, butter and spice make everything nice!
Blackened Broiled Gulf Shrimp
2 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons whole thyme
1 teaspoon oregano
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne
2 sticks butter, melted
2 lbs raw, shrimp in shell
Mix the first nine ingredients together to form the blackening spice. Store in an airtight container.
Thoroughly grease a shallow baking pan with melted butter. Toss shrimp with a generous coating of the blackening spice. Thread onto skewers. Set onto the baking pan and sprinkle with more spice mix and then baste with melted butter.
Cook in a preheated 475 degree F oven until pink, about 3 minutes. Rotate the skewers and baste with more melted butter. Broil for 4-5 minutes until done.
Since this is peeled with fingers at the table, serve with a good supply of paper napkins and the remainder of the melted butter. Depending on how spicy you like it is how many fingers you should lick!
As he wrote at the end of the recipe: Messy but good
I had a lunch meeting to plot world domination and it was decided that a po-boy place was the perfect venue for our conspiring. Avery’s on Tulane was convenient to nearly everyone, so that’s where we went.
They were very busy when we arrived at noon with workers from the area construction projects, lawyers and other workers from the courthouse, etc filling the place. They have a concrete floor, so it was a little noisy.
The menu is divided into starters, salads, po-boys and platters which makes it easy to decide how much food one wants.
For starters we had sweet potato fries which had an interesting seasoning on them. Not bad but a little odd. Their honey butter biscuit was really delicious and I could have eaten a second one.
I had the shrimp creole daily special. Came with five large shrimp and two pieces of toasted garlic bread. The sauce was really good – with enough spice and flavor to open my sinuses but not enough to make me cry.
The other folks at the meal had the shrimp po-boy, catfish po-boy, buffalo shrimp platter and blacked chicken Caesar salad. All of which were good sized portions and I heard no complaints.
The kitchen seemed backed up as it took a while for a meal to arrive. However, we were busy intriguing and hardly noticed. The waitstaff might have been rushed but they were quick with drink refills and checking to make sure we had all we needed. Very much worth a trip back to taste a po-boy or three.