John Besh’s Shrimp Creole

by Chef


5 pounds jumbo Louisiana or wild American shrimp, peeled and deveined
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon minced fresh lemongrass

1/2 cup olive oil
3 medium onions, diced
10 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 bell pepper, red, green, or yellow, seeded and diced
5 pounds overripe Brandywine or other heirloom tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper akes
Leaves from 2 sprigs fresh basil, chopped
Leaves from 1 sprig fresh mint, chopped
Pinch sugar
6-8 cups cooked white rice


Put the shrimp into a large bowl, season with salt and pepper, then mix in the lemongrass. Heat 1/4 cup of the oil in a large deep skillet over moderate heat. Add the shrimp, stirring and tossing them with a spatula. Sauté until they turn pink, about 2 minutes. Remove the shrimp from the pan and set aside while you make the sauce. Into the same skillet with the oil and shrimp juices, put the remaining 1/4 cup oil and the onions, garlic, celery, and bell peppers and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, for about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and when the sauce comes to a simmer add the bay leaf, allspice, and red pepper akes. Simmer for 10 minutes. Add the shrimp back to the skillet along with the basil and mint. Cook for a minute or two. Season with salt and pepper. If the sauce tastes too tart, add a little sugar to balance the avor. Remove the bay leaf. Serve over steamed rice.