Dozen Best Unique Shrimp Dishes
The Louisiana white shrimp season is one of the glories of late summer and fall. They are a legitimate claimant to the title of best shrimp in the world, meaty and emphatically delicious. They’re so good and so easily available that almost every restaurant in New Orleans serves them in one form or another.
Most of the shrimp dishes we see are the classics. But there are a lot of classics. So many places serve shrimp fried, boiled, barbecued (New Orleans style), and remoulade that each of those dishes demands its own top-dozen list. That’s also true of pasta, salad, and soup dishes with shrimp as the main protein.
A newcomer to the pantheon of widely popular shrimp dishes is shrimp and grits, an idea imported from the Carolinas about a decade ago. So many chefs now are making so many original versions of that to make a top-dozen list easy to compile.
That leaves a long list of more original dishes, and those are the ones in this list. And why not? The versatility of shrimp is as famous as it is delicious.
1. Hoa Hong 9 (Nine Roses). Gretna: 1100 Stephens. 504-366-7665. Salt-baked shrimp is a misnomer, in that there’s not all that much salt, and they’re cooked more in the wok than the oven. Lot of pepper, too.
2. Drago’s. CBD: 2 Poydras. 504-584-3911. Fleur de lis shrimp are fried with a batter so light that for a long time I thought there was none at all. Then it’s tossed with a spicy, orange aioli, then encrusted with ground peanuts. It is impossible to stop eating these things.
3. Galatoire’s. French Quarter: 209 Bourbon. 504-525-2021. Shrimp Marguery is a variation of one of Galatoire’s most famous dishes, trout Marguery. What makes it is the sauce, a thick job with shrimp and mushrooms. The shrimp in the sauce are smaller and have a different texture than the bigger shrimp underneath. Light, but not lite.
4. Commander’s Palace. Garden District: 1403 Washington Ave. 504-899-8221. Shrimp and tasso Henican is a spicy, slightly sweet appetizer that gets its beguiling goodness from pepper jelly. And a few other things. The best appetizer at the city’s best restaurant.
5. Mosca’s. Westwego: 4137 US 90. 504-436-9942. Shrimp Italian style are enormous, whole, unpeeled, with olive oil and tons of garlic. It will remind you a little of barbecue shrimp, but it’s really a different dish.
6. Iris. French Quarter: 321 North Peters . 504-299-3944. No name: Gulf shrimp, coconut broth, baby bok choy, shiitake mushrooms, Thai basil coulis, fried ginger. This is a great example of Iris’s multicultural menu.
7. Upperline. Uptown: 1413 Upperline. 504-891-9822. Drumfish with hot and hot shrimp. Although the redfish is the center of the plate, the shrimp are what you’ll remember. It comes to the table with one peppery sauce, but a little pitcher on the side allows you to add the second, different, and much hotter sauce to your liking.
8. Stella!. French Quarter: 1032 Chartres. 504-587-0091. Scallops and shrimp with truffled potato hash may be the dish that’s survived longest on this very hip menu. It’s been there since the beginning, and almost conventional.
9. Maximo’s Italian Grill. French Quarter: 1117 Decatur. 504-586-8883. Sicilian shrimp are wrapped with prosciutto and grilled. Like most dishes at Maximo’s, it has a shade more red pepper than you expect.
10. Lilette. Uptown: 3637 Magazine. 504-895-1636. Sizzling shrimp with lemon oregano vinaigrette. A dazzling appetizer.
11. Flaming Torch. Uptown: 737 Octavia. 504-895-0900. Shrimp Sazerac is sort of a Creole version of shrimp scampi through most of the preparation. At the end, however, the elements of a Sazerac cocktail are added to the pan, brought to a boil, and reduced into a unique sauce.
12. Palace Cafe. French Quarter: 605 Canal. 504-523-1661. Shrimp Tchefuncte seems to me to be the rebirth of an old Brennan dish called shrimp Chippewa. The shrimp are huge and covered with an old-style brown meuniere sauce and mushrooms.