Teaching myself to cook, one recipe at a time.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Drunken Shrimp

My big brother turned 30 last week. He decided he wanted to have a big party with lots of his favorite foods. For him, this meant serving steak, crab legs, and beer. Man stuff. Guests volunteered to bring side dishes. I volunteered to make anything that they needed, adding that I would be using his kitchen because I wasn’t going to cook it in mine and then transport it across 2 state lines.


He asked me to make drunken shrimp, explaining that his favorite restaurant had drunken shrimp that were (was? is?) to die for. He happened to have the restaurant’s cookbook and scanned the page (upside down) with the recipe for me. Hmm, looked simple enough. It called for shrimp, beer, old bay seasoning, cider vinegar, creole seasoning, mutha sauce… Wait, what? Mutha sauce? The recipe said to look on page 165 for that secondary recipe. A quick phone call to my brother, and he’d scanned that page (also upside down) for me, too.

It called for 19 ingredients, ranging from liquid smoke to ketchup to molasses to cayenne pepper sauce to fresh jalapeno peppers.


If I’d been in my own kitchen, I’d have risen to the challenge. Honestly, it looked yummy. But in someone else’s kitchen with all of the ingredients hiding, and with a time crunch, I figured I’d go for something a little simpler.

I found this recipe, the sole drunken shrimp recipe on allrecipes.com.

I also waited until the last minute to make it, as I wanted it to be hot for guests. I guess this made me rush a little, especially since the kitchen was full of people at this point. I pretty much abandoned step-by-step picture-taking in the chaos, too. Sorry about that.

We start off with my first ever experience with fresh ginger root. The recipe called for 2 tablespoons of the stuff grated up.


I didn’t really know what to do with it, so I just tried to peel it roughly with a paring knife before running it over the grater. I’m told this grater was a goody-bag gift that my sister-in-law had received a while back (or at least, this is what my distracted brain remembers her telling me, though I could have completely messed that up). 


All I could think of at this point was how delicious the ginger smelled. I didn’t realize how amazing that stuff smells when fresh. Maybe I need to buy more fresh ginger.

The recipe said to heat canola oil over high heat. It should have said medium-high, as high was just way too intense. I subbed olive oil for the canola oil. I’m a rebel like that.


Dump in the ginger, along with a chopped onion and chopped garlic and heat for just 15 seconds or so. Too hot – it was spitting and going crazy. I think I backed it off a bit. Then add shrimp, salt, and pepper, and cook for about 5 minutes, or until slightly pink. So far, so good.


Then I stopped taking pictures. Bear with me.

Add beer, ketchup, and some white sugar, and then return it to a boil. Then, dissolve a tablespoon of cornstarch in a tablespoon of water, and add it to the mixture. Or, if you’re like me, decide that you’d be better off just mixing any old amount of cornstarch with any old amount of water, and put probably closer to a cup of starchy water in the sauce. Then regret it, as this is not a stir fry. Probably a lot more liquid than I was supposed to have. I actually ladled a bunch of it back out, taking with it some flavor. Then I realized that the written directions never actually said to add red pepper flakes, though they’re listed in the ingredients, and figured that was supposed to go in with the salt and pepper ages ago.  So I added them now. The recipe said to return to a boil and let simmer for 5 minutes. Done and done. Finally, mix in some sesame oil and chopped green onions, and you’re good to go.


Once I dumped it in the bowl, I finally tasted it. My first two impressions were that (a) the shrimp seemed overcooked to me, and (b) there was not enough spice and seasoning. So I picked up a canister of Old Bay, which was out for the crabs, and sprinkled it generously on top of this.

Honestly, I liked the beer/ ketchup combination and I think this recipe would have been a lot better if I hadn’t put too much liquid in and if I hadn’t overcooked the shrimp. The overall reception was pretty good, I think, but then again, my brother is friends with nice people. Still, I found it disappointing.

I may whip up some of that mutha sauce before my brother visits us next time and try it again, this time with the restaurant’s recipe. I can also see myself trying this particular recipe again. I’ll be more careful.

Does anyone have a good drunken shrimp recipe?

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