I grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana, home to some of the best creole cooking in the United States. Every once in a while in Dominica I find locals that season creole dishes identical to New Orleans style creole cooking. One of my favorite creole fish sauces is served at the Adaj restaurant in Portsmouth, Dominica. Outside of New Orleans, when you go to a restaurant and order a creole style meal that usually means bland tomato sauce doused with black pepper, yuck ! Here in Dominica, creole cooking is the real deal.
So what is Louisiana creole culture and creole cuisine ?
Unlike many other ethnic groups in the United States, Creoles did not migrate from another country. The Creole people by definition are descendants of French, Spanish, or Portuguese settlers living in the West Indies and Latin America. In Louisiana, Creole best identified French-speaking people of French or Spanish decent. Their ancestors were a separate caste of people who were Catholic and retained the traditional cultural traits of related social groups in France.
In present times, Creole has come to represent people of generally mixed background, generally French, African, Spanish, Native American, English, German and Italian.
Louisiana Creole cuisine is recognized as a unique style of cooking, which makes use of the “Holy Trinity” (in this case, chopped celery, bell peppers, and onions), but has a great variety of European, French, Caribbean, African, and American influences.
– Quote from the website of Tony Chachere
Since we are celebrating Creole Week here in Dominica, I thought I would post a Shrimp Creole recipe from south Louisiana, courtesy of one of my friend’s website, The Catholic Foodie. Of course, the recipe may need to be adapted as things like celery are hard to find in Dominica, but here it is …Thanks Jeff, Char, and Cathy LeBlanc !
My husband and I discovered this Shrimp Creole recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks, “The Basics of Creole Cooking“, which is put out by Tony Chachere’s. You can buy it on their website for around $3.00, and it is definitely worth the investment! Awesome recipe! I’ve added notes in parenthesis for the changes I’ve made to the original recipe, because, as a Cajun, I rarely follow recipes exactly as they are written =) Although, I do follow this one unusually close.
1 onion, chopped
1/2 bell pepper, chopped (if it’s on the smaller side, I use a whole one)
2 cloves garlic, chopped (I use more like 5 or 6 cloves, because you can never have too much garlic!)
1 rib celery, chopped (I don’t usually put the celery)
4 Tbsp. margarine (I use real butter)
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 cup water (I usually just fill the empty tomato sauce can with water to make sure I get all the sauce out the can)
1/2 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. crushed bay leaf
1/2 tsp. basil
1 lb. peeled shrimp (seasoned liberally with Tony Chachere’s seasoning and a few shakes of the bottle of worcestershire sauce. The recipe doesn’t call for the worcestershire sauce, but we like it that way. I chop the shrimp into bite size pieces, so you get more shrimp per bite, and I season it and put it in the fridge to marinade while the sauce is cooking)
In a Dutch oven, saute vegetables in butter/margarine for 5 minutes, or until softened; add tomato sauce, water, thyme, bay leaf, and basil. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes. Add seasoned shrimp and simmer for 45 more minutes. If sauce is too thick, add water (I never have to do this). Serve over steamed rice. SO GOOD! I usually serve this with a homemade french bread (to help sop up the gravy – yummy!), and a green salad on the side. This is really one of our all time favorite meals. It comes out perfect every time. Enjoy! Bon appetit!