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New Orleans Seafood Cookbook

New Orleans Seafood Cookbook

by Andrew Jaeger

It's impossible to think about New Orleans cuisine without thinking seafood-soft-shelled crab, catfish, swordfish, oysters, shrimp, speckled trout, snapper, blue crab. And even shark. And it's impossible for anyone in New Orleans to think about seafood without thinking of Andrew Jaguar, third-generation seafood chef and proprietor of the famous French Quarter


It's impossible to think about New Orleans cuisine without thinking seafood-soft-shelled crab, catfish, swordfish, oysters, shrimp, speckled trout, snapper, blue crab. And even shark. And it's impossible for anyone in New Orleans to think about seafood without thinking of Andrew Jaguar, third-generation seafood chef and proprietor of the famous French Quarter Restaurant, Jaeger's. This book presents some 125 of his best-loved recipes, lavishly illustrated with full-color photos. It's all you need to have your own personal Mardi Gras.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Jaeger and DeMers have created a primer to get cooks who don't know an touff e from a gumbo on the road to Creole bliss. Chef Jaeger, whose family has been in the New Orleans seafood business for decades, and veteran cookbook scribe DeMers spare not an ounce of Southern hospitality while instructing how to peel shrimp, open an oyster and suck the spice out of the head of a crawfish. Missing and needed, however, are suggestions on just how to acquire, say, some fresh Channel Catfish or the obscure Southern fruit known as a mirliton. Meanwhile there is no shortage of Jaeger family history, New Orleans small talk and tips on living the good life (cranked-up music, Louisiana shrimp and a cold beer). Recipes run the gamut from the simple (Fried Shrimp, Blackened Tuna) to the sublime (Crawfish Ravioli in a Hot Brandy Cream Sauce, Oysters Rockefeller) and the ridiculous (a Bread Pudding that absorbs a can of fruit cocktail, a Jambalaya that calls for a quarter pound of margarine). Preambles to each of the recipes often prove amusingly disarming: the directions for a questionable concoction called Asparagus-Lemon-Cream Trout begin by stating, "Sometimes you try a combination and just get lucky." Such logic makes this collection a worthwhile gamble for easy-does-it cooks or die-hard Yankees in search of a different cuisine. (July) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

Ten Speed Press
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 8.84(h) x 0.54(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One


    JUST about everybody who grew up in New Orleans has some kind of shrimping experience. I had more than most people, naturally, with my father being in the business and so many relatives owning boats. But some of my earliest memories of shrimping don't even involve a boat. We used to pull castnets full of flopping shrimp right out of Lake Pontchartrain, shrimping in the evenings from the concrete steps we called "the seawall," though we were a fair distance from the sea.

    Done right, shrimping is an all-day or all-night affair. Back in my seawall days, most folks would start in the morning by catching the little clams that grow in the lake. Few people know we have clams here in Louisiana, but we do, and they're at least tasty enough to make shrimp happy. The idea is you catch a bunch of clams, chop them all up, and throw them into the lake as bait. The shrimp find their way in to feed on all these clams, and before you know it, they're flopping around on the seawall in your castnet.

    I should point out that using a castnet requires a good bit of skill. Most people get the hang of it eventually since it doesn't require any major smarts, but it does require practice. The movements involved seem to belong to another, more primitive time and place, and probably they do. I can't give you a lesson here in the fine art of casting around swimming shrimp, and jerking the net right and then left so it closes just perfectly around them, but I can show you sometime if you ask me.

    Another way we caughtshrimp was with a trawl net. We'd pull a trawl net behind a boat we called a Lafitte skiff. The skiff was named after our local pirate, Jean Lafitte, or rather, it was named after the town that was named after the pirate. The town turned out these skiffs like there was no tomorrow. (Of course, when you were cooking in a restaurant all day and trawling for shrimp all night, there really didn't seem to be a tomorrow.)

    When we were young, my brother, Allen, and I would take our Lafitte skiff into the bayous and bays and marshes after a full day in our family's restaurant. We used every trick our ancestors ever thought of: eighteen-foot trawls, plus twelve-foot butterfly nets that look like graceful wings sprouting from the side of your boat, and all kinds of so-called night rigging. Sometimes, when there was still a little daylight at the falling of the tide, or when there was a bright, glassy moon shining on the water, you see'd the shrimp moving across the surface like a waving "S." They were riding the current out, and it was your job, as the old-timers put it, to push against the falling tide. It was hard work, since everything in nature was trying to pull you the other way, and sooner or later, you had to bring in the nets.

    These days, machines help, but I remember when we had to do it all manually. I'll never forget this cousin of mine called Sonny. He had huge arms (a side benefit of shrimping, in those days before Nautilus machines!), and he was incredibly strong. We would watch Sonny pull in those shrimp nets from the water behind the boat, starting with the heavy waterlogged boards that helped spread the nets out wide and working his way back to the heavy knot that (you hoped) held all those shrimp.

    When shrimping, you were always at the beck and call of the tides, whether you kept up by reading (New Orleans newspapers and TV stations still give the tidal reports every day) or by listening to the old people, who always knew, or could tell, or could guess. These folks were never wrong about much that involved water or rain or wind, anything that made the difference between thousands of dollars and burning a tankful of fuel for six shrimp, a gafftopsail catfish, and a couple of oyster shells. They always knew what was happening out there in the marsh.

    Although I remember some very disappointing trips, when I think of the nights we started trawling at ten o'clock, and didn't pull in the nets until two or three in the morning, I mostly remember excitement. There was always some kind of surprise in the net—and sometimes a quite painful one. One time, when I wasn't as careful as I should have been, I reached into this mound of shrimp only to have the stiff, sharp spike atop a catfish pierce my hand. Catfish were the constant threat to your bounty, much more than the occasional stingray. You learned to be careful at a young age.

    Still, if you learned one cut and one poke and one puncture at a time, you never lost that little quickness of breath every time you pulled in that net. You didn't know what you had; you could never know. Mostly, what you had in there was money. But it didn't look or act or feel like money. It looked and acted and felt like magic.

How to Peel Shrimp

    Peeling shrimp is probably the easiest thing in the bag of tricks required to eat New Orleans seafood, perhaps because so many people have peeled at least one shrimp sometime in their lives. So, let's start here.

    Boiled or raw, shrimp require only the most basic flirtation to get them out of their clothes. We respect that attitude here in New Orleans. The standard method for peeling shrimp involves holding the shrimp in one hand and using the other hand to twist off the head and all of the various whiskers. This leaves the body with a whole bunch of little legs holding the shell together at the bottom. Remove these legs and the shell enclosing the body like a horse's blanket is ready to come off. Once the shell is removed, the tail can easily be twisted off. But don't let too much of the tail meat get away.

    As we describe in our look at a New Orleans seafood boil (pages 26-27 and 29), the primary advantage of peeling shrimp once they're boiled is that it leaves all but your fingers free to enjoy the important things in life: family, music, and beer. Practice can really improve your speed so that you will have a definite Darwinian advantage in any newspaper-lined New Orleans feeding frenzy.

    Peeling raw shrimp will strike most first-timers as both harder and messier than peeling boiled shrimp, but it's not. Use the same method as for peeling boiled shrimp. The only difference is the shrimp meat will be greenish brown rather than a lovely reddish orange, and the various juices are less appetizing. But hey, you're not peeling raw shrimp for good looks, you're peeling them for good food.

    Finally, there are traditions surrounding what to discard and when to discard it. I know cookbooks all over America devein all shrimp as a matter of course. In New Orleans we see nothing wrong with the dark little line that runs along the back of a shrimp and generally don't bother deveining much of anything. The only real exceptions to this rule are jumbo shrimp, which cook best butterflied anyway.

    The other discardable part of a shrimp is the head, but generations of cooks have warned us not to be hasty. The head of a shrimp (like the head of a crawfish) carries an immense amount of flavor, probably more than any other part of the creature. If you're boiling shrimp and can get your hands on whole ones, don't get rid of the heads until after the boil—the boiling water will become a spicy, shrimpy treasure! And if you're making anything resembling our New Orleans Barbecued Shrimp (page 40), do sauté these babies with the heads on. Once again, the fat will infuse the buttery sauce with goodness you can never get from a shrimp that has lost its head.

Coconut Shrimp with Citrus Sauce

Serves 4 as an appetizer

There's something about coconut in New Orleans. It keeps turning up in dishes, as though to remind us how many links we have to the islands to our south. Here's a dish that's become very popular in the last few years. Some people make it like it's an Asian dish, while others make it like it's a Caribbean dish. I, naturally, make it like both.

Citrus Sauce

1 tablespoon puréed
pickled ginger

1 tablespoon lime zest
(colored part only,
leaving bitter white)

1 tablespoon lemon zest

(colored part only,

leaving bitter white)

2 tablespoons orange
zest (colored part only,
leaving bitter white)

Juice of 1 orange

Juice of 1 lemon

½ cup rice wine vinegar

12 jumbo (16 to 20 count)
shrimp, peeled,
deveined, and

2 eggs

1 ½ cups seasoned flour
(page 145)

1 cup dark beer

½ cup shredded coconut

1 cup honey

1 tablespoon Asian chile
paste or 1 tablespoon
crushed red pepper
blended with oil

1 cup firmly packed dark
brown sugar

Vegetable oil for deep-frying

TO prepare the citrus sauce marinade, combine all of the ingredients for the citrus sauce in a large bowl. Add the shrimp, cover, and marinate for 1 hour in the refrigerator.

    To prepare the batter, beat the eggs into the seasoned flour in a separate large bowl and add the beer and coconut.

    Remove the shrimp from the refrigerator. Pour the marinade from the shrimp into a skillet and add the honey, chile paste, and brown sugar. Reduce over medium-high heat by about half, 4 to 5 minutes. Dip the shrimp into the batter, holding each by the tail, and deep-fry in cooking oil preheated to 350 degrees in a deep-fryer until golden brown. Remove the shrimp from the hot oil with a slotted spoon and set on paper towels to drain. To each of 4 appetizer plates, transfer 3 of the fried shrimp and spoon some of the warm citrus sauce over the shrimp. Serve immediately.

Sautéed Sesame Shrimp

Serves 4 as an appetizer; serves 2 as an entrée

The sesame oil gives this dish a little kick in the pants from the Orient, as does the sherry. But I wasn't really trying to come up with something Asian—just something good. Considering the number of requests we get for this dish, especially as an appetizer, we must be doing something right.


2 tablespoons sesame oil

2 tablespoons chopped

½ teaspoon blackening

seasoning (page 145)

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon Tabasco

2 cups peeled jumbo (16
to 20 count) shrimp,
peeled, deveined,
butterflied, and
drained well

2/3 cup dry sherry

1 tablespoon sesame
seeds, for garnish

½ head iceberg lettuce,

¼ cup thinly sliced green
onions, for garnish

MIX together the ingredients for the marinade in a large bowl and add the shrimp. Toss to coat the shrimp thoroughly (about 100 times). Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

    In a large skillet over medium heat, add the marinated shrimp and cook, stirring constantly, until pink, about 3 minutes. Do not let the garlic burn. Pour in the sherry and scrape up browned bits from the pan and continue to cook until the sherry is almost evaporated.

    To toast the sesame seeds, place in a hot skillet over medium heat, tossing until they start to brown, about 1 minute.

    To serve, divide the lettuce evenly among the plates. Place the shrimp on the bed of lettuce and top with the sesame seeds and green onions.

Marinated Italian Shrimp Salad

Serves 4

This is my mother's recipe, drawn from decade after decade of New Orleans' seafood culture. Like several others of our shrimp recipes, it also works great with crab (cracked open in the shell to absorb all of the flavor) and with crawfish with only the heads removed. You might even borrow a trick from my mother, tossing the leaves of freshly boiled artichokes into the marinade right along with the seafood.

1 cup boiled medium
(36 to 40 count)
shrimp (page 29),
peeled, or plain
shrimp boiled with
salt and pepper

2 teaspoons chopped

½ cup olives, drained

6 tablespoons extra virgin
olive oil

3 thin lemon slices, cut
and quartered (about
1/3 lemon)

1 tablespoon capers,
rinsed and drained

¼ teaspoon coarsely

ground black pepper

¼ head iceberg lettuce,

TOSS all of the ingredients except the lettuce together for 3 to 4 minutes. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. Serve cold over shredded lettuce.

Shrimp Tasso Pasta

Serves 8 as an appetizer; serves 4 as an entrée

I don't believe the Cajuns have been cooking this dish forever, but you'd sure think they have been from the way they gobble it up now. The key is that the intensely smoky and heavily seasoned flavor of the tasso is smoothed out by reduced heavy cream. In this case, I think you'll agree, reduction equals seduction. Tasso is a Cajun smoked, spiced, and cured pork. A spicy, cured sausage can be substituted.

2 tablespoons unsalted

1 cup peeled medium (36

to 40 count) shrimp

2 heaping tablespoons

2 tablespoons blackening

seasoning (page 145)

1 teaspoon chopped

2 cups heavy whipping

16 ounces cooked


¼ cup finely chopped
green onions

Salt and coarsely ground
black pepper

1 cup grated pecorino-romano

IN a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and add the shrimp, tasso, and blackening seasoning. Cook, stirring constantly, until the shrimp are pink, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cream and reduce by half over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, about 5 minutes. Add the pasta and green onions and toss to heat the pasta. Season to taste with salt and black pepper and sprinkle with the cheese. Toss again and serve immediately.

Shrimp Scampi

Serves 4

I was never trained in classic Italian cooking, but growing up around my mother's kitchen, I sure learned to love the taste. This recipe takes what I've seen of Italian technique and applies it to how we like to eat here in New Orleans.

1 teaspoon chopped

2 tablespoons extra virgin
olive oil

12 jumbo (16 to 20 count)
shrimp, peeled and

¼ teaspoon Italian
seasoning (page 149)

¼ teaspoon coarsely

ground black pepper

2 tablespoons finely
chopped green onions

1 cup chopped button

2/3 cup dry white wine

2 teaspoons freshly
squeezed lemon juice

¼ teaspoon red pepper

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ cup garlic butter (page
146) or regular butter,

SAUTÉ the garlic in the olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat about 1 minute. Add the shrimp and the remaining ingredients except the garlic butter. Reduce by half, about 4 minutes, and then stir in the garlic butter until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Serve immediately.

    Note: I like to serve this and barbecued shrimp with plenty of hot, crusty French bread. Try a little of the garlic butter on your bread.

Meet the Author

JOHN DeMERS is a food writer, radio talk show host, and author of more than 30 books. He lives in Houston, Texas, and serves as editor of ArtsHouston magazine.
ANDREW JAEGER grew up over the New Orleans seafood restaurant his family ran for 45 years, and he is chef/owner of two locations of Andrew Jaeger’s Restaurant.

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