When I received a request for a seafood bisque recipe I thought of the shrimp bisque I usually order at one of my favorite restaurants, but that’s it. I have never eaten it anywhere else. True confession. So I called my Mama and asked her why she never made a seafood bisque and while laughing she said, “I don’t know, I guess we were so satisfied with our gumbo we didn’t want anything else.”
It’s like, “Gumbo, the perfect food!”
She did say that there is such a thing as crawfish bisque. It is a time consuming task where the heads of the crawfish are stuffed with a crawfish stuffing and served in a sauce. I do remember a good friend of mine from Gueydan, Louisiana, saying that her family gets together and makes this special dish every Good Friday for their large family gathering. Sounds like it’s worth the effort.
So with no family recipe to go by I started looking at different bisque recipes. I asked a friend about some particulars of her bisque and with some trial and error and the help of my daughter and son-by-love as taste-testers this is what I came up with:
1 tablespoon butter
8 ounces of fresh unpeeled gulf shrimp, without heads
3 tablespoons butter
2 rounded tablespoons chopped green onion
2 rounded tablespoons chopped celery
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 cup shrimp stock
1-1/2 cups milk
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more if you can stand the heat)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup heavy whipping cream
8 ounces fresh lump crab meat
2 tablespoons sherry
Give the shrimp a quick rinse, drain then peel the shrimp. Keep the shells and place them in a small saucepan with 1-1/4 cups water to make the stock. Simmer slowly on low heat for about 15 minutes then turn heat off. While waiting on the stock you can devein the shrimp by slitting along their backs with a small sharp knife and removing the little black vein from the shrimp. Chop the shrimp into small pieces.
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a heavy pot like a dutch oven and cook shrimp for 3 minutes while stirring just until they are cooked. Cooking too long toughens them. Take shrimp out and set aside in a small bowl.
In the same heavy pot melt 3 tablespoons of butter then add green onion, celery, and garlic. Saute until tender. Next stir in flour to vegetables and cook for one minute. Drain the shrimp stock from the shells into a measuring cup which should measure about 1 cup making sure no shells get into the stock. Slowly add stock and milk into the flour and vegetables stirring until well blended. Cook at medium heat and stir until thick.
Add salt , pepper, and tomato paste stirring until paste is dissolved into sauce. Now, this is the pretty part. Stir heavy cream in and enjoy the swirls until there are no more. A bit of art for your entertainment.
Next add the crab meat, but first pass your fingers through the meat to make sure there are no shells then cook for 5 minutes. Stir in cooked shrimp and sherry and bring to a simmer then turn burner off. Do not substitute or leave out the real sherry. It crowns this dish! Serve hot.
Some recipes call for the bisque to be blended in a blender or food processor before serving, but I like the thinner texture of the sauce with the lumps of seafood to bite into.
This was such a fun and challenging project. I believe it came out better than my favorite restaurant bisque. Can’t wait to make some for my Mama, but I have a feeling it won’t take the place that gumbo has in her heart.
A big thank you to my Facebook friend who requested this recipe. I hope you enjoy making this bisque next time you get to escape to the beach with your bride.
I enjoy reading your comments so feel free to send them to me. Thanks!
“Character is what you are in the dark.” Dwight L. Moody