Cooking: Cajun Shrimp & Crab, with Fried Eggplant
It was my turn for the cooking week, and I decided that it was time to try something new. I’d recently found a copy of Paul Prudhomme’s Louisiana Kitchen cookbook, and thought that a Cajun dish might be fun to try. After looking through the recipes, I settled on a variation of a Shrimp & Crab recipe. I had most of the ingredients on hand and those ingredients weren’t too obnoxious to the pickier eaters in the Donnelly and Kirkpatrick families.
To start, I made up a Cajun seasoning mix that consisted of onion powder, garlic powder, salt, dry mustard, cayenne pepper, paprika, dried basil, and white and black pepper.
Our garden produced a lot of eggplant this season, but we’d planted a variety that gave fingerling eggplant. The original Prudhomme recipe called for making boats out of fried eggplant to hold the Shrimp & Crab. Instead, I chopped up the eggplant into discs, coated them with a flour/breadcrumb mixture spiced up with the seasoning mix, and dredged them in a milk/egg mixture. The discs were fried in hot oil until golden brown, and set aside.
The first step of the main dish was to make a gratin sauce. After chopping up half of a white onion into very fine bits, I sautéed the onion in butter and mixed in a teaspoon of the seasoning mix. After the onion was soft, I added flour and cooked with a low heat until it lightly browned. Milk was then stirred into the flour/butter/onion mix and the heat was increased again. Frequent, rapid stirring started everything thickening up. I added cream and kept stirring until everything thickened up again. Finally, I added freshly grated parmesan cheese and kept stirring. Once the sauce was smooth I set it aside, off the heat.
In a second skillet I melted more butter, then added raw, unshelled, shrimp and cooked until the first signs of pink appeared. I added crabmeat and about two teaspoons of the seasoning mix, a few tablespoons of white wine, and chopped green scallions. A few quick stirs to mix everything and then the mixture was added to the gratin sauce and returned to the heat until it began to bubble. Once the sauce was sufficiently thickened, it was ready to serve. Since we didn’t have the eggplant boats to serve it in, I’d cooked up some egg noodles to serve as a bed.
Mike brought a wonderful pecan cranberry salad. It was a great accompaniment to the main dish!
Everything turned out well. I’m not a fan of eggplant, but the fried eggplant medallions were very tasty. I might cut down on time in the oil next time – they were a trifle too dark. Other than that, everything came out as I hoped it might.