One-Pot Wonders

Flamin' Cajun Shrimp

March 23, 2011
Photo by James Ransom
Author Notes

Actually, I think the spicing of these shrimp is a little more Creole, but that doesn't make a slant rhyme with flamin' now does it? Anyways, this is actually a recipe from a college boyfriend of mine. I think I've said it before (I have a terrible habit of repeating myself), but I'll say it again, there is no relationship that doesn't wind up leaving you with something worthwhile, and this dish is certainly one of those things. It's one of my very favorite dinners—super fast, super easy, and super delicious. I've tweaked it over the years, and now I finally decided it was time to let it go up in flames, but only literally. The addition of cognac and the lick of the flame over the shrimp adds a whole new dimension of wonderful flavors to those already in the dish. Make sure to have lots of good French bread on hand because you really don't want to let any of the sauce go un-sopped up. This dish is fabulously messy, as you have to peel the shells off of the sauce slicked shrimp as you go. And then you get to lick your fingers, yum. If you need to, you can use peeled shrimp, but I really recommend shell on shrimp because the shrimp meat cooks to a nicer texture and has more delicate flavoring, while the sauce also winds up with better flavor. —fiveandspice

Test Kitchen Notes

Tender and garlicky, fiveandspice's shrimp skew more towards gumbo than other boozy shrimp dishes like scampi or shrimp with beurre blanc. There's a subtle background tingle of cayenne, and fiveandspice capitalizes on both the fragrance of lemon zest and the gentle astringency of its juice. Worcestershire sauce and paprika give the sauce an earthy quality, while the Cognac envelops the shrimp like a warm, sweet blanket. We love any recipe that embraces the ritual of peel-and-eat, and like fiveandspice, we suggest serving this with plenty of crusty bread to sop up the sauce. - A&M —The Editors

  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 12 minutes
  • Serves 2 to 4
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 lemon, zest of
  • 30 large shrimp, shell-on
  • 5 tablespoons butter, cut into chunks
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon shallot, finely minced
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup cognac (or brandy)
In This Recipe
  1. In a bowl, combine the shrimp with the spices and the lemon zest. Toss the shrimp to coat it well.
  2. In a large frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat until foaming. Stir in the garlic, shallot, lemon juice, and Worcestershire sauce. Sauté for about 2 to 3 minutes, until the garlic and shallot have softened. Then, add the shrimp and sauté until they just turn pink, about 3 minutes.
  3. Carefully tilt the pan away from you, pour in the cognac with a ladle and use a long match or one of those lighters with a long handle to light the cognac. Let it blaze itself out—this should only take 15 or so seconds. I once had a friend add way too much cognac to a flambe and the fire just kept going and going...if this happens, please just blow it out!
  4. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the remaining butter until melted. Serve with lots of crusty French bread, a big green salad (and heck, why not eat that with your fingers too?!) and some cold beer.

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I like to say I'm a lazy iron chef (I just cook with what I have around), renegade nutritionist, food policy wonk, and inveterate butter and cream enthusiast! My husband and I own a craft distillery in Northern Minnesota called Vikre Distillery (, where I claimed the title, "arbiter of taste." I also have a doctorate in food policy, for which I studied the changes in diet and health of new immigrants after they come to the United States. I myself am a Norwegian-American dual citizen. So I have a lot of Scandinavian pride, which especially shines through in my cooking on special holidays. Beyond loving all facets of food, I'm a Renaissance woman (translation: bad at focusing), dabbling in a variety of artistic and scientific endeavors.