Oh, y’all. Taking these photos is killing me. I crank the music loud and that’s okay except if I hear loud music often I pour a drink…regardless of the time of day. This recipe liked to kill me. I had several ideas for props and one of them was to stack a few biscuit hot from the oven in the background. I baked them off and although I didn’t even use them in the photos I ate two. I’m filled with shame. I thought maybe I’d toss a few potato chips behind the photo of the shrimp po’ boy. As I walked down the chip aisle at my neighborhood Publix, my eyes fell on “Hot ‘N Spicy Pork Rinds”. Well! I’m half Puerto Rican. Pork rinds hold deep meaning for us. Into the cart they went alongside the frozen biscuit I knew I wouldn’t eat because…c’mon, they’re frozen. I don’t eat that garbage. I ‘magine that’s why I only ate two. I stopped by the bakery to pick up a few freshly baked hoagie rolls for the po’ boy photo and I can honestly say all I ate of THAT product was the tip I cut off of one roll for aesthetic purposes. People, I was like the mayor in the movie “Chocolat”, who also went crazy during Lent. He couldn’t control himself from eating chocolate and that’s how I was with all these tempting carbs while taking these photos. I didn’t touch the shrimp…I needed them and this was the fourth and last time was frying them to take some photos. No. I focused on the biscuit and pork rinds…and my cocktails…at 2:17 in the afternoon. Ugh. I keep thinking, “Can I get any fatter?”, and the answer always, always is yes. But I had a good time setting up the shoots. I danced alone in the house with the dog and Earth, Wind and Fire. Chaka Khan and Bobby Womack may have shown up. I boogied to “Love Rollercoaster” and Shalamar’s “Make The Move”. And when the shoots were over there’s a chance I indulged in a shrimp or two. (Insert shameful face emoji.) So I will share with you this recipe that, again, I have made four (4) times because my family and I kept eating all of it before I took pics. It is heavenly!
Once you fry shrimp in cornmeal you will never batter up again. It’s just a light dusting of cornmeal but its presence makes all the difference in the world. I start with good size, large shrimp, shelled and deveined. Sometimes with and sometimes without the tail, but always wild caught, never farmed. Farmed shrimp has a muddy, dull, one-dimensional taste. I’ll do without shrimp rather than eat farmed. I prefer a medium ground, white cornmeal as I find a fine ground is too processed and without flavor. If I’m ingesting these cornmeal calories, by God, I want to taste and enjoy them! I keep Tony Chachere’s in my pantry as my all time favorite but Zatarain’s is probably just as good for an all-around Creole or Cajun spice blend. I’ll admit the amount of cayenne is somewhat alarming for some readers but I find cooking with hot spices seems to tame their heat greatly. These shrimp are not as spicy as you think they’d be. That said, if they’re not spicy enough for you, lightly dust each batch with a little cayenne pepper immediately after taking them out of the hot oil and placing on some paper towels to drain. And that’s all there is to it. This shrimp recipe is perfection in a po’ boy…especially if you slip a couple of spicy pork rinds in the sammie for a little crunch. On top of slow cooked grits, alongside corn bread or standing alone, these shrimp are a phenomenal flavor bomb.
Creole Cornmeal Fried Shrimp
- 2 cups medium ground white cornmeal
- 1/4 cup paprika, NOT smoked
- 2-3 tablespoons cayenne pepper
- 2 tablespoons Creole seasoning, Tony Chachere’s or Zatarains are my favorites
- 2 pounds shrimp, shelled and deveined
- 1 egg white
- canola oil to fry
- Pour 3/4″ canola oil into a large skillet and heat to medium high.
- In a large bowl combine the cornmeal, paprika, cayenne pepper and Creole seasoning. Mix well with a whisk or fork until all the ingredients are completely incorporated. Set aside.
- In a separate small bowl combine shrimp and egg white. Using your hands, toss the shrimp lightly until all the shrimp is coated with the egg white.
- Drop 1/3 of the shrimp into the cornmeal mix with your left hand.
- With your right hand lightly toss the shrimp so it is completely coated with the cornmeal mixture.
- Rinse your hands and gently drop each cornmeal coated shrimp into the hot oil.
- The shrimp will fry for 1 minute. While the shrimp fries, mix the second 1/3 of the shrimp in the cornmeal mixture. Set aside.
- Using tongs turn each shrimp over and fry for 1 minute.
- With a slotted spoon or spider, remove shrimp from frying pan and place on paper towels to drain.
- Place waiting shrimp in cornmeal in hot oil and fry for 1 minute.
- While shrimp is frying, coat the last third of shrimp in the cornmeal and set aside.
- Turn the shrimp in the pan over and fry for 1 minute.
- Remove from pan and move to paper towels to drain.
- Place last third of shrimp in hot oil and fry for 1 minute on each side, removing to drain on paper towels when done.
- Serve immediately.