This appetizer was one of the first things I learned to make 25 years ago when I first got to Commander's Palace restaurant. It's sweet, sour, salty, peppery and a touch bitter all at the same time.
Technique tip: Make your five pepper jelly and beurre blanc first. Have everything prepared before you cook your shrimp. Be ready to serve it immediately. Also, remove the shrimp from the pan before you think they're done. It's very easy to overcook shrimp and then they become hard and rubbery.
Swap options: Try the recipe with chicken thighs. We also do it with fried oysters and crispy frog legs. In September we use pieces of alligator. If you can't find the spicy, smoky ham tasso, you may substitute smoked ham (the dish will not have quite the same flavor profile, but it will be no less delicious).
Five pepper jelly
- 1 each red, yellow and green bell peppers, diced
- 1 jalapeño, diced
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 6 ounces light corn syrup, preferably Karo
- 6 ounces white vinegar
Hot sauce beurre blanc
- 1 pinch minced garlic
- 1 pinch minced shallot
- 1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter, softened, divided
- 5 ounces hot sauce, preferably Crystal
- 2 ounces heavy cream
- 36 jumbo shrimp, shelled and deveined
- 6 ounces spicy tasso ham, cut into thin 1-inch strips
- Flour generously seasoned with salt and pepper
- Oil, for frying
- 5 pepper jelly (recipe above)
- Hot sauce beurre blanc (recipe above)
- 36 pieces pickled okra
For the five pepper jelly:
In a pot, combine the corn syrup and vinegar over medium-low heat. Cook until the mixture is reduced and sticky. Add remaining ingredients and cook until the peppers are soft. Season with salt to taste.
For the hot sauce beurre blanc:
In a sauté pan, heat about 1 tablespoon of butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and shallots and cook until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the hot sauce and let cook until reduce by about 75%. Add the cream and reduce again by about half. Slowly whisk in softened butter a little at a time.
For the shrimp:
Heat about 2-inches of oil in a large, heavy pot.
Make a 1/4-inch cut down the back of each shrimp and place one strip of tasso into each shrimp. Secure with a toothpick. Lightly dust each shrimp with seasoned flour.
Working in batches, fry the shrimp until golden brown on both sides. Placed the cooked shrimp in a bowl with 4 ounces of the hot sauce beurre blanc sauce and toss until well coated.
Spread a spoonful of the five pepper jelly on the bottom of a small dish and arrange shrimp on the plate alternating with the pickled okra.