Saturday, August 6, 2011

Smoked Shrimp

After my first experiment with my stovetop smoker was successful, I've been searching for new and exciting things to use it with for the duration of my meat hiatus (1 week left, for those who are counting). As it turns out, people have tried to smoke pretty much everything. As it also turns out, shrimp work pretty well. I wouldn't have expected this - shrimp cook quickly, and smoking is a famously  "slow and low" cooking method. But after doing a little digging, I found an interesting looking preparation apparently used by the Taco Sisters of Lafayette, LA. After giving this a shot, I'll be sure to drop in next time I find myself by Lafayette.
Not much too it beyond seasoning and smoking. You'll need:

Peeled, deveined Shrimp (I used 31 - 40/lb, but would have preferred a little bigger - 25 - 30/lb). 
Olive Oil
Freshly ground Thyme
Fresh ground Bay Leaf
Paprika (I use Hot Hungarian)
Chili Powder
Garlic Powder
Onion Powder
Cajun Seasoning (I used Joe's Hot Stuff)
Hickory chips

1. Grind any fresh herbs you've got handy, and mix all the seasonings together thoroughly. I like to round things out with Joe's Stuff, but you could probably be just fine adding a bit of salt to the rest. I wish I could give you proper proportions, but I pretty much just guessed until it tasted right.
2. Mix in olive oil until you get a thick paste. 
3. Get your shrimp ready -  as necessary thaw, peel, devein, and pat dry. Fresh, unpeeled shrimp are best, but work with you've got.
4. Start warming up the smoker - I didn't know how long it was going to take, so I started with a hot smoker. It seemed to work fine.
5. Coat the shrimp in the seasoning mix.
6. Smoke between 180 - 200 degree F until done - pink, and just firm.

Spices and Olive Oil
Seasoned Raw(ish) Shrimp

So, I realize "smoke until done" is less than helpful instructions. I was pretty concerned about overcooking the shrimp, so I get checking frequently, releasing the smoke and heat. It took around 7 or 8 minutes. I'd guess around 4  - 5 minutes would have been fine, otherwise.

I didn't actually bother with the fork. Great (messy) finger-food!

I'm pretty good with shrimp - it's one of the first things I learned to cook, and I revisit it frequently - sauteed, in jambalyas and gumbos, pasta, skewered and grilled, whichever. That said, I wasn't expecting much (I was ready with Fabio's pizza on speed dial), but the result was really tasty. The shrimp soaked the hickory readily, and played nicely with the seasoning. They were compulsively eatable - I can see how this preparation would make a great appetizer or taco filling. I used low-end, frozen shrimp here, and I can't wait to revisit with fresh shrimp!

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