Fat Tuesday is tomorrow and with all the recipes I've been posting lately, well, they are making me fat. Fatter. Forget I mentioned it. Time to switch gears a bit and get back to the basics. Not that the recipe today is basic. But it is good and maybe it is good for you. It does contain veggies and shrimp, and okra does have lots of fiber and it contains protein, too. It is also quick to make and you don't have to make a roux. Plus it makes a perfect dinner with a side of salad.
This bisque is not a true bisque meaning that it has no cream and it is not smooth but it does contain shrimp and may have French origins. Though it may not. It is thick and creamy, not because of cream, but because of the okra. Okra is a thickener and it does a perfect job in this soup. I've been making this dish for years as a starter for a great Cajun feast. The reason I probably chose this many moons ago is because it is easy to make. And quick. And always gets rave reviews.
Truth is I've never had fresh okra. Not even fried, or grilled, or stewed. Whenever I see okra in the grocery I usually avoid it, but my goal is to buy some and try it fresh; at least when I can find it. I buy frozen okra which comes in a 12 ounce package in the grocery. That's all one needs to make this bisque. Just save a few slices for a garnish because okra takes on an olive hue when cooked and a touch of fresh green on the top does make this look a bit more appetizing.
Paul Prudhomme came up with this recipe, but you knew that already. Didn't you? I love his stuff and for an occasion like Fat Tuesday one should go with the best. But really one should always go with the best and this is the best. At least of any okra shrimp bisque I've had. Let me know what you think. Now let's get this party rollin'!
Okra Shrimp Bisque
Adapted From: Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen
Servings: 4-8 Depending on if this is a main course
Time: 45 minutes start to finish
3 whole bay leaves
2 t salt
1 1/2 t dry mustard
1 1/4 t ground white pepper
1 t cayenne
1 t dry thyme leaves
1/2 t ground black pepper
1/2 t dried basil
1/4 c plus 2 T vegetable oil
3 c sliced okra, in all or 1 bag frozen about 12-14 oz (no need to thaw)
3/4 finely chopped onions
3/4 c finely chopped green bell peppers
1/2 finely chopped celery
4 T unsalted butter
2 t minced garlic
1/4 c flour
5 1/2 c basic seafood stock (Take your shrimp shells and add about 6 c of water. Bring to a boil and let simmer for about 20 minutes. OR-I use clam juice that can be bought in the bottle at the seafood counter. You can use a combo of this and water. This bisque is very rich so don't worry if it is not all stock or clam juice.)
1/2 c finely chopped green onions
3 dozen peeled medium shrimp, about 3/4 pound
Combine the seasoning mix in a bowl and set aside.
In a 4 quart saucepan, heat 1/4 c of the oil over high heat for 1 minute. Stir in 2 c of the okra, cook until browned, about 6 minutes stirring occasionally. Stir in the onions, peppers and celery and cook one minute. Add the butter and cook one minute. Then add garlic and cook another minute. Add the seasoning mix and stir well over high heat for 3 minutes while stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan. Add the remaining 2 T of oil and the flour. Stir to prevent scorching. Cook until well browned, about two minutes. Stir in 1 1/2 c of stock and scrape bottom well. Add 4 more cups of stock and bring to a boil. Boil two minutes, then lower heat and simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in remaining cup of okra but be sure to reserve a few for garnish. Continue simmering 10 minutes stirring here and there. Add the green onions and simmer three minutes. Turn heat down to medium and add the shrimp. Simmer until they just turn pink. Serve immediately garnished with a few reserved slices of okra.
More fun food to try:
Shrimp and Grits
Crispy Chipotle Shrimp and Corn
Barbecued Shrimp Cajun Style
Spinach Salad with Za'atar, Dates and Almonds
Green Onion Garlic Chive Skillet Bread
White Fish with Mushrooms and Browned Butter