Bayou Classics: Shuck N Dive Cajun Café

 

It’s officially Mardi Gras season, and so I felt it was only appropriate to finally share with you about my love affair with Shuck N Dive. Situated in a nondescript shopping plaza off Federal Highway near downtown Fort Lauderdale, this lively Cajun café is one of our favorite restaurants in all of South Florida. The interior is decked out in LSU and New Orleans-style knick-knacks — and there’s always either zydeco music blasting through the speakers or a sports event shown on the bar’s TVs. My husband has also noted the “flashy”, shall we say, Bourbon Street photos that adorn the men’s bathroom walls.

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Boiled Crawfish

This has to be the restaurant we’ve visited the most since moving to Miami. And we can’t get enough of their food. We have our standards, like the 3-Way Oyster Platter (Black n’ Blues, Oyster Rockefeller and Oysters Bienville) and the pork boudin, which is flown in from Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, a small town across the way from where I was born. There are also a few items we’ve tried only once, but overall enjoyed — fried pickles, naked chicken wings, red beans and rice. The “Larry” Cobb salad delivers a huge portion topped with chicken and Gulf shrimp, and during season they typically have boiled crawfish, most of which have been decent size.

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Crawfish Etouffee

I enjoy their hearty portion of crawfish etouffee, albeit it’s a creamier version than those you’ll find in Louisiana — and nearly every time I go to Shuck N Dive I have a cup (or bowl) of either their Country Gumbo (pulled chicken with andouille and okra) or their seafood gumbo (shrimp and sausage), which is probably my favorite dish they serve. Nine times out of ten my husband orders the fried gulf shrimp po’boy — he also asks for it to be tossed in buffalo sauce, which adds some nice heat to an already overstuffed sandwich.

A couple Abita or Nola Brewing beers and some Zapp’s chips, and you feel as though you’re in any old roadside dive in Louisiana. But here you won’t find a drive-thru daiquiri stand or snowballs for dessert. When we can’t make it to my hometown of New Iberia, Louisiana, or I’m not up for cooking my Cajun family’s recipes, Shuck N Dive certainly delivers that taste of home, no matter how far away.

Family Traditions: Mamon Babineaux’s Shrimp Creole

This recipe is a super special one because not only is it one of the first dishes I ever made when I started teaching myself how to cook, but it also spans four generations in my family. It has been passed down from Mamon Babineaux (my late great-grandmother) to her daughter, Harriet Shea (my grandmother) to her son, Steve Shea (my late father), who sent it to me many years ago while I was in college. It’s a simple recipe packed with bold Cajun flavors. From my family to yours — enjoy!

Mamon Babineaux’s Shrimp Creole
Serves 4-6

Ingredients
¼ cup vegetable oil
½ cup chopped onion
½ cup chopped celery
½ cup chopped green bell pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
2 (8-ounce) cans tomato sauce
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
White rice

 

Directions
In a Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the veggies and garlic to the pot and cook until soft, 5-7 minutes. Mix in tomato sauce and seasonings. Simmer 15 minutes. Then add shrimp and cook 5-10 minutes.

Serve over cooked rice.

Cajun Kitchen: My Favorite Shrimp Étouffée Recipe

You may have read in previous posts about my Cajun heritage and love for Louisiana cooking. If so, you’ll understand that after eating Cajun cuisine outside of the state of Louisiana for years, I’ve often been disappointed with the inauthentic fare dished out of kitchens here in Florida. And étouffée, which is arguably my favorite Cajun offering, has been one dish I’ve never completely been satisfied with unless I’ve eaten it in Louisiana.

That’s why I was stoked when I stumbled upon (and totally rocked) this recipe for shrimp étouffée last week. It’s packed with all that spicy, deep-flavored goodness – with the quality of shrimp being a key ingredient. I like my étouffée on the thicker side, so I didn’t add that much stock (maybe ¼ cup or so), and I served it atop Jasmine rice, but use whichever rice is your favorite.

If you too have a hankering for some good Cajun or Creole flavors, you might try these recipes for Mardis Gras Jambalaya, Chicken-Sausage Gumbo, or my Mamon’s Stuffed Artichokes.

 

Shrimp Étouffée
Serves 6
Adapted from The 100 Greatest Cajun Recipes

Ingredients
1 stick butter, unsalted
1 large onion, chopped (I used yellow onion)
½ cup celery, chopped
1 medium bell pepper, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 ½ pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined (21-25’s)
½ cup of diced canned tomatoes
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1 teaspoon onion powder
2 tablespoons flour, all purpose
¼ to 1 cup Seafood Stock or water (I only used about ¼ cup to ½ cup)
2/3 cup green onions, minced
¼ cup fresh parsley, minced
Cooked white rice (I used Jasmine)

Directions
In a large skillet over medium heat melt the butter. When the butter is melted, add the onions, celery, bell pepper and garlic and sauté until the onions are limp and clear (about 5 minutes), stirring constantly.

Add the shrimp and tomatoes and then season with salt, black pepper, white pepper, Tabasco sauce and onion powder. Blend well and cook over medium heat for 3 minutes. Add the flour and blend in well, stirring constantly to prevent the flour from sticking to the skillet.

When the flour is blended well, cook it, stirring constantly, for 4 minutes. Slowly add the seafood stock, a little at a time, until the sauce is at the consistency of thick gravy. Reserve the unused stock for possible later use.

Let the dish cook for 20 minutes, stirring often to prevent sticking. About 3 minutes before the cooking process is complete, add the green onions and parsley. Stir in well and cook for the remaining 3 minutes. Adjust the liquid if necessary by using the reserved stock and serve hot over cooked rice.

NOTE: You can use this same recipe to make Crawfish Étouffée by substituting 1 pound peeled crawfish tails for the shrimp. Or you could make Crab Étouffée by substituting 1 pound of all-lump crabmeat for the shrimp and red bell pepper instead of the green.