This Shrimp Creole recipe has been in my family for over 40 years. Mom used to make it on very special occasions when I was young. About thirty years ago, I started to make it and over time I tweaked. Mom loves my changed and always raves when I lake it. About fifteen years ago I made it our traditional New Year’s Eve meal and I still make it upon request for birthday dinners. This Cuban creole dish is very flavorful, but not spicy. As the sauce cooks, all the ingredients marry beautifully and the result is an amazing sauce. I love to serve it over white rice with a salad, crusty French bread and a glass of white wine. This is definitely a showstopper that will impress any guest!
HERE’S HOW I MADE IT
I purchase jumbo prawns at Costco. If you want a dish to impress, you won’t get that effect with cocktail size shrimp. Peel and devein the shrimp. As a matter of preference, I remove the tails because I don’t want any inedible pieces in my Shrimp Creole. If the tails don’t bother you, leave them on. Pat the shrimp dry with paper towels and sprinkle evenly with Old Bay Seasoning. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator until you’re ready to cook. Remove the shrimp from refrigerator when you start the sauce.
I like to finely mince the vegetables individually in a food processor. This helps thicken the sauce and the vegetables become flecks of color in the sauce, making it difficult for picky eaters to identify them and pull them out. If you don’t have a food processor or don’t want to use one, finely mince the onion, green bell pepper, red pimento and garlic. Set them aside in individual containers.
Heat a large Dutch oven or bottom heavy casserole over medium heat. Generously coat the pan with extra virgin olive oil. Add the onion and green bell pepper and sauté until translucent – about 5-8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Note: if you can’t find green bell peppers, substitute with yellow or orange bell pepper.
Now the fun part! Ready to dump all the other ingredients? Add the tomato sauce, minced red pimentos with its juice, ketchup, cocktail sauce, white wine, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, salt, pepper, bay leaves and a little sugar in the pan. Stir and allow the ingredients to marry as they simmer over low heat uncovered for about 25-30 minutes. The liquid should reduce and the sauce thicken. Keep an eye on the sauce and stir occasionally so it doesn’t stick.
I love to cook with a wine I can drink. Vouvray is a delightful Chenin Blanc that tastes mild and it’s easy to drink. When you don’t want the wine to overpower the dish, a Chenin Blanc is my go-to-choice and I highly recommend it. Barton & Guestier is a French label and this brand was brought across the pond by Thomas Jefferson.
In a separate skillet, sear the shrimp in batches over medium-high heat. Barely coat the skillet with a little extra virgin olive oil and add a layer of shrimp to the skillet, without overcrowding. When the bottom turns pink, flip each shrimp over, add a few pieces of minced garlic and a squeeze of lemon juice to flavor the shrimp. Once they are pink on both sides, toss them gently a few times in the pan to coat all the shrimp with the garlic before adding them in with the sauce. Repeat the process until all the shrimp have been sautéed and combined with the sauce. Stir the shrimp and sauce to combine and coat the shrimp. Simmer on low heat, uncovered, for 5 minutes.
Note: you don’t want to over cook the shrimp when searing because they will continue to cook in the sauce. Shrimp doesn’t take long to cook and if you overcook them, they become rubbery and unenjoyable.
Turn the heat off, remove the bay leaves, add the parsley and serve immediately.
Note: I add the parsley at the end to keep its vibrant green color. Cooked greens can often turn gray.
At home we serve this dish over white rice with a side of fried plantains also called cooking bananas.
What are plantains? Well, they are not your regular yellow bananas we eat raw and bake with. Plantains are a larger, meatier cousin of the yellow banana that can’t be enjoyed raw. They can be fried as tostones, (green, twice-fried and savory) as maduros (ripe, once fried and sweet) and boiled, steamed and mashed. If you’ve never tried them, look for them in the Latin food section, frozen food section or ask your grocer.
I hope you enjoy my family’s Shrimp Creole and make it your family favorite too!
The best Shrimp Creole recipe you'll ever eat! This Cuban dish packs a flavor punch without the heat. Perfect for any special meal or New Year's Eve dinner.
- 2-3 lbs jumbo shrimp, peeled, deveined & tails removed
- about 1 Tablespoon Old Bay seasoning
- about 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil plus extra to sauté the shrimp
- 1 large yellow Spanish onion, minced
- 1 large green bell pepper, minced remove ribs and seeds
- 3-4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 8 oz tomato sauce, unsalted
- 1 8 oz roasted pimentos with juice, minced
- ½ cup ketchup
- 3 Tablespoons seafood cocktail sauce prefer Crosse & Blackwell brand
- ½ cup white wine prefer a Chenin blanc like Vouvray
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
- 3 bay leaves
- ½ teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt prefer Diamond brand
- ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 2-3 dashes hot sauce
- 2 Tablespoons Italian parsley, chopped
- 1 lemon cut in wedges
Peel, devein jumbo shrimp and remove tails. Pat dry and evenly sprinkle with Old Bay Seasoning. Cover and refrigerate until ready to cook.
Use a food processor to individually mince the onion, green bell pepper and roasted red peppers (pimentos). Set each vegetable in their own container when prepping.
Note: If you don't have a food processor, finely mince them with a knife.
Making the Creole Sauce
When you start the sauce, remove the shrimp from the refrigerator to lose their chill.
Add about 3 Tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil to a large bottom-heavy pot or Dutch Oven casserole that has been heating over medium-high heat. Add the onions and green bell peppers and sauté until the onions are translucent, about 5-8 minutes. Add most of the minced garlic and sauté for an additional 2-3 minutes.
Note: You'll use the remaining garlic when you sauté the shrimp.
Add tomato sauce, roasted red pimentos, ketchup, cocktail sauce, white wine, Worcester sauce, distilled white vinegar, hot sauce, bay leaves, sugar, salt and black pepper. Stir and once the sauce comes to a simmer, reduce the heat to low and cook the sauce for 25-30 minutes, stir occasionally.
Working in batches, sauté the shrimp over medium heat in a wide skillet that has been lightly coated with olive oil. Sauté on one side until bottom turns pink and tail begins to curl. Flip each one with a fork, sprinkle with a few pieces of garlic and squeeze a little lemon juice over them. When both sides are pink, gently toss to combine a few times before adding the shrimp to the sauce. Repeat until all the shrimp have been sautéed and added to the sauce.
Finishing the Shrimp Creole
Once all the shrimp has been added to the sauce. Stir well to combine and coat all the shrimp with sauce. Cook for 5 minutes over low heat. Turn heat off, remove bay leaves, add parsley and serve immediately. Garnish with extra fresh parsley, if desired.
Serve with white rice, crusty bread and sweet fried plantains or a side salad. Have extra hot sauce and lemon wedges on hand. Enjoy!