|If you love heat, you're gonna love Shrimp Sauce Piquant. Piquant translated from French means literally "pricking" and that is what this spicy sauce piquant is meant to do, prick the tongue.|
Shrimp Sauce PiquantMost of y'all know that I try to keep the Cajun and Creole recipes I feature here with a slight bite, knowing well that many people will take recipes very literally. It is certainly much easier to increase the heat to taste in a spicy recipe than it is to try to take it away! So I try to keep things on the lighter side of spicy here for the general public, and let the reader choose to increase to their own heat level. Sauce piquant is one exception.
While sauce piquant is closely related to it's cousin, Shrimp Creole, with a few subtle differences, there is one major exception. It is intended to be a very highly spiced dish. Chef Paul Prudhomme says "if you don't hover between pleasure and pain when you eat it, chances are you haven't made your sauce piquant hot enough!"
The best flavor for your piquant is going to come from using the freshest ingredients. Fresh Gulf shrimp and stock made from the heads and shells of them, and fresh garden tomatoes that have been slow roasted and pureed will make this dish shine. In a pinch though, commercial seafood, chicken, or even vegetable stock and canned tomato sauce will still make a mighty fine sauce piquant.
Sauce piquant should start with a roux, though it is a very small roux, say in comparison to a gumbo roux, and this is one of those old Cajun recipes that is not intended to be a rushed process. If you work away from home, it's a weekend dish for you, as the flavor of the piquant comes through slow cooking, and the staged periodic addition of the stock, a little at a time. You add stock and then allow it to cook in a bit, before adding additional stock and then repeating the process. This really builds up the flavor and to me, is the secret to a good sauce piquant.
Besides shrimp, this basic sauce can also be used for other seafood such as crab or fish, and a variety of meats as well. The process is just slightly different, and of course, the stock varies depending on what protein you are using. Chicken, duck, alligator, rabbit and even turtle are commonly used, but, unlike seafood, always brown meats first before starting the sauce.
Recipe: Shrimp Sauce Piquant©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 45 min |Cook time: 2 hours | Yield: About 6 to 8 servings
- 2 pounds of medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 2 teaspoons plus 1 tablespoon of Cajun seasoning (like Slap Ya Mama), divided
- 2 tablespoons of canola oil
- 2 tablespoons of all purpose flour
- 2 cups of chopped onion
- 1 cup of chopped green bell pepper
- 1/2 cup of chopped celery
- 5 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 2 cups of slow roasted tomatoes, pureed,* or canned tomato sauce
- 4 cups of shrimp stock*
- Juice of half a lemon
Pat the shrimp dry with paper towels and sprinkle with 2 teaspoons of the Cajun seasoning. Refrigerate until needed.
Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed stockpot over medium high heat, stirring in the flour. Cook, stirring constantly, until the roux becomes a medium brown, caramel colored. Add the onion, bell pepper and celery and cook over medium heat, stirring often until vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another minute. Stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon of Cajun seasoning and 1 cup of the shrimp stock, bring to a boil and continue at a medium boil, stirring often for about 5 minutes. Add the tomato sauce, return to a boil, reduce heat to medium low and let simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
After the first hour, stir in another cup of shrimp stock, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes longer. Repeat, adding a cup of the stock and cooking another 30 minutes.
Add the lemon juice and cook for another 10 minutes, then add the last cup of stock, bring to a boil, add the shrimp, and simmer for another 15 to 20 minutes.
Spoon over rice in bowls and serve with buttered French bread to sop up the juices.
*Cook's Notes: May substitute canned tomato sauce and commercial seafood, chicken or vegetables broth/stock.
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