Monday, May 19, 2008


We go to NOLA for the food. I wish there was someplace in Southern California that made a half-way decent version of the classics, but there just isn't. So,  you have to make it yourself when you crave it. And I'll be honest - if  you're not  a local, you're not going to make it the same. I don't give a shit who's recipe you've got. 

We DO however, have kickass seafood, so that helps. It'll cost you... but if you want some live sweet shrimp that were caught a few hours ago, you can buy them. Pearson's Port is a local seafood merchant, family owned, in Newport Beach. The wife runs the store, the husband fishes. They have all sorts of goodies, whatever is in season. Today it was sweet shrimp (live) and halibut. Caught that day. 10 jumbo shrimp, $25. 1/2 lb of halibut, $10.00. Yowza. Aren't they beautiful though!

Since they were alive, I quickly plunged them into boiling water to - um - dispatch them. I wanted to do a New Orleans bbq shrimp saute' and I wasn't about to toss them into the frying pan kicking, and I can't do the knife in the head thing, so this was the nicest way I could think of. 

After they were no longer kicking, I sauteed them with some garlic, salt, pepper, Worcestershire, thyme, oregano and some spice until done, then added the butter for the finish. A little rice on the side and some crispy bread. The shrimp was to die for - better than lobster. Worth the $25.00. 

This is my $10 piece of halibut. I think tonight I'll cut it into chunks and panko it.

OK... so, moving on. 

These little gremlins are called Merlitons. A common vegetable in New Orleans. About a month ago I made a classic dish, Stuffed Merlitons. 

Dice onions, green pepper, celery & garlic. Cut the Merlitons in half. 

Saute' the onions, peppers, garlic, celery and about 1/2 lb ground beef until brown.  

Boil Merlitons until barely tender (over cook them like I did and they'll be mushy).

Remove the pit. Then remove flesh - leaving the tough skin intact (way easier said than done!)  This was a lot of work and honestly, I'll never bother with it again. 

Mix the flesh with the meat mixture, then stuff the shells. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and some parmesan,  and bake at 350 until golden on top.  They were really good, but next time I'll just mix it all together like a casserole - no need to stuff a shell you can't eat. 

AND...  Lastly, some Shrimp Étouffée! 

I didn't follow a recipe, I just made it from "taste memory."  

First, the dirty rice. Saute sausage and onion, bell pepper and garlic. Add rice and water and cook. 

The shrimp were sauteed in butter, garlic, green pepper, celery and onion, then I added flour and homemade chicken stock to make the sauce. I finished with a few dashes of cayenne pepper and Cajun seasoning, a pinch of thyme and fresh green onions. Served with the rice and collards. 

After all this food, I think I got the cravings out of my system for a little while. You can't really go to New Orleans in the summer, it's too damn hot. California beach weenies like us can't take the hot humid Gulf Coast climate.