New Orleans Barbecue Shrimp has actually very little to do with barbecue. Popular in Louisiana, the dish refers to sautéed shrimp in a Worcestershire-spiked butter sauce. Typically made with an insane amount of butter, the shrimp are served shell-on so you eat with your hands. It’s incredibly delicious but not very practical for a family dinner, so this is my simple and easy-to-eat version. Butter is still the main ingredient in the sauce but I’ve scaled the amount way back. If you keep shrimp in your freezer, it’s one of those dishes you can throw together at a moment’s notice. And, bonus, kids love it!
Before we get started, a few words on buying shrimp. While fresh seafood is obviously superior to frozen, I always buy frozen shrimp. Fact is, unless you live on the coast, it’s near impossible to find truly fresh shrimp. The “fresh” shrimp you see in the seafood case at the supermarket is typically thawed frozen shrimp, and who knows how long it’s been sitting there.
Almost all shrimp are cleaned and flash frozen shortly after being caught, so for the freshest shrimp, you’re better off buying frozen and defrosting it yourself. For this recipe, I buy extra large frozen shrimp labeled “shell split and deveined.” Come dinnertime, all I have to do is run the shrimp under warm water to quickly defrost and then peel.
To begin, toss the peeled shrimp with the paprika, ancho chili powder, cumin, salt and a bit of sugar. Note that ancho chili powder is not the same as regular chili powder. Chili powder is a blend of spices, while ancho chili powder is a pure chili powder made from ground ancho peppers with deep rich flavor and mild to medium heat. Many large grocery stores carry it, and you can always find it at Whole Foods (Cheap Plug)
Melt five tablespoons of butter in a large skillet. Seems like a lot but remember this dish serves four people, and anyway it’s worth it.
Add the minced garlic and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, for about a minute. Do not brown
Add the shrimp and continue cooking until almost done but still opaque in spots. Keep the heat at medium so the shrimp cook gently; if shrimp are cooked over high heat, they can seize up and become tough
Add the Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice and a few tablespoons of water, and then continue cooking for a few minutes more until the shrimp are cooked.
Finally, scatter some thinly sliced scallions over top and serve.
If you’re serving this dish with rice, which I highly recommend, be sure to start the rice before you cook the shrimp so they’ll be done at about the same time. Hope you enjoy!
Servings: 4 – 6 Total Time: 20 Minutes
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 pounds extra large or jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined, thawed if frozen
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 large cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons water
- 3 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
- Mix the paprika, ancho chili powder, cumin, sugar and salt together in a large bowl. Add the shrimp to the spices and toss to coat evenly. Set aside.
- Melt the butter over medium heat in a 12-inch skillet. Add the garlic and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, for one minute. Do not brown. Add the shrimp and continue cooking over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the shrimp are almost cooked but still opaque in spots, 3-4 minutes. Add the Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice and water and cook until shrimp are done, 1-2 minutes more. Scatter scallions over top and serve.