New Orleans, USA, is a veritable food paradise, but its unique cuisine is hardly halal-friendly. Native New Orleanian and Muslim convert Theresa Corbin has been tweaking her recipes to suit the halal palate and she shows us how to prepare her favourite dish.
The southern USA has a rich tradition of unique cuisine. This culinary uniqueness reaches a fever pitch in the port of New Orleans, Louisiana. It is as if New Orleanians decided to represent their melting pot of different cultures in a literal cooking pot. New Orleans cuisine is derived from Spanish, French, Caribbean and African roots, which give it a spicy and exotic cornucopia of flavours. The famous port is home to fresh seafood and it enjoys an abundance of local crops nearly the whole year round.
New Orleans is a fantastic destination for any hungry traveller or foodie looking for fanciful fare. However, as is the case with most southern cuisine, the New Orleans food experience can be a gastronomic “landmine” for Muslims. Most recipes either use parts of the pig or have some pork added for “flavour”. And when you do find a dish that looks pork-free, you will often find that there is alcohol added.
As a convert living in southern USA, and who grew up on New Orleans food, I have had to tweak my mother’s recipes into home cooking the halal way. From gumbo minus the ham hock stock to bread pudding without the rum drizzle, New Orleans and American southern food doesn’t have to be passed up because of its haram components.
With a few simple tweaks, you can cook like any down home southerner without the haram. This was what I did when I found out that my favourite dish, New Orleans BBQ Shrimp (deceptively named because it has nothing to do with barbecue sauce or grilling) is usually is cooked with beer. I did a little research and some creative cooking, and discovered that the recipe could be adjusted for the halal palate. Here’s what I came up with:
Theresa’s recipe for Halal-Style New Orleans BBQ Shrimp
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ tbs dried oregano
- 1 tbs dried rosemary
- ¼ cup green onion, diced
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tbs Worcestershire sauce
- 1 cup apple juice (a substitute for pale ale)
- ½ lemon, juiced and cut into rings
- ½ teaspoon hot sauce (such as Louisiana or Crystal brands, but sriracha will work as well)
- 2 lb raw shrimp, deveined, shell on
- 8 tbs (1 stick) butter, chilled
- 1 tbs parsley, chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- French bread as accompaniment
- Heat on low a 10- or 12-inch frying pan (a cast iron skillet works best, but it is not a must) and add olive oil and garlic. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes, or until garlic is slightly browned.
- Turn up the heat to medium and add paprika, cayenne pepper, oregano, rosemary, green onion and bay leaf. Cook for 2 minutes, or until spices are fragrant.
- Turn up the heat to medium-high and add Worcestershire sauce, apple juice, hot sauce and lemon (juice and rind). Stir frequently and cook until liquid mixture is reduced by half.
- Add shrimp with shell on, and cook until shrimp are just pink. Shrimp cook very quickly so keep a close eye on it!
- Remove lemon and shrimp once the shrimp is cooked, and put aside on a deep serving plate, or in a bowl. Remove pan from heat and add to the sauce a few cubes of butter (tablespoon-sized) at a time until melted, stirring frequently. Add salt and pepper to taste.
*You don’t want the heat to melt the butter too quickly and create little puddles of oil. You want to emulsify the butter into your sauce (this much butter is necessary and often doubled in other recipes) so it is best not to add all the butter at once, and do so away from direct heat.
- Pour sauce over shrimp. Garnish with parsley.
Enjoy your luxurious, halal BBQ Shrimp with French bread (the crustier the better) to soak up the delicious sauce.
And as New Orleanians would say, c’est si bon!