New Orleans Spicy BBQ Shrimp

Can you say rapture? Yes, that’s what I feel when I eat this dish. Rapture.

These shrimp prepared New Orleans barbeque style steep in a spicy + buttery bath so good you will lick your dish. (Or so I have heard. I personally have never ever done such a thing.)

For this recipe, you will leave the shrimp unpeeled. The shells add an essential smokiness, and their tails are like little shrimp handles. Oftentimes I recommend offering your guests warm, wet cloths for their hands, but it’s probably not necessary since they will suck their fingers clean. You might, however, want to provide bibs.  Just sayin’.

It is integral that you not overcook the shrimp for this dish as they will become difficult to peel. They are done when the texture is firm, or as SteamyKitchen’s Jaden Hair says, “song chuy” (in Cantonese) or “puri-puri” (in Japanese) or “QQ” (when in Singapore).

This recipe calls for both ground and cracked pepper. Pepper’s flavor hinges on freshness. Its earthy + citrusy undertones are more conspicuous when it comes straight from the grinder. Using both ground and cracked means adding different sizes of pepper. Does size matter?  We all know it does.

Pepper size is referred to as particles and is measured by mesh size. As I understand it (with help from Chef Tim Ziegler), there is a range of pepper particle size that has at least 6 levels:

  • pure ground has intense flavor because it is so fine (30-34 mesh)
  • shaker grind is what we often see on mainstream restaurant tables; it is a “finisher,” meaning you are in control of adjusting the heat to your liking (22 to 28 mesh)
  • table grind is typically found on tables in nicer restaurants and is slightly more coarse (and thus, more visible) than shaker grind (18-24 mesh)
  • coarse grind is bold in appearance and flavor and makes a big statement on its stage (12-14 mesh)
  • cracked pepper is peppercorns that have been split, either in quarters or halves. It likes to be noticed, garnering attention (think steak au poive) with its size (6-10 mesh)
  • whole berries accentuate sauces and marinades and usually find their way to your dish via a peppermill (6-8 mesh)

Indeed, requiring two mesh sizes of pepper does make this dish “peppery.”  Such is the nature of food that comes from Cajun/Creole country. However, the heat that comes from the piperine in black pepper diminishes quicker than the heat from capsaicin peppers, so you will not be left with a mouth-burn hangover. Besides, the other spices and herbs in this dish harmonize with the inherent flavor of the pepper, balancing it out.  Of course, while I recommend remaining faithful to the recipe, I also am a firm believer in you do you.

A bowl of these shrimp looks beautiful when garnished with sliced green onions or chopped parsley. Licking Sopping the bowl with crusty bread is a must.

Serve this with a dry or sweet-ish wine with subtle fruit such as a rosé or Champagne.

C’est bon!


If you try this recipe, I’d love to hear about it!  Tag your photos #nakedepicurean on Instagram so we can celebrate together!

New Orleans Spicy BBQ Shrimp (for 2)

  • 1 stick of butter, divided
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of hot sauce (or to taste)
  • ¼   cup Worcestershire sauce
  • ⅓   cup beer, wine or broth
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice (1 lemon); reserve rind
  • 2 teaspoons Creole seasoning
  • 1   teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 1 pound shrimp, unshelled
  • salt to taste
  • parsley for garnish
  1. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large pan over moderate heat. Add the garlic. Saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  2. Add hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, beer, lemon juice, creole seasoning and peppers. Increase heat to medium-high and simmer until the sauce is syrupy or reduced by half, about 5-7 minutes.
  3. Add the shrimp and cook about 1-2 minutes per side depending on the size of the shrimp.
  4. Reduce the heat to moderate. Add the remaining butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring constantly until it melts. Shrimp should be pink.
  5. Season with salt to taste.  

Serve with crusty bread to sop up all that goodness!

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