"Hey, Mister. Gimme Some of them Head-on Shrimps!"

New Orleans BBQ Shrimp
Somedays, Mr. B and I struggle with homesickness for our beloved New Orleans. Especially at this time of the year when carnival music floods through our brains and we crave King Cake and Abita beer and fried oysters on buttered toast. The good thing about living in the modern world is that everything is just a phone call or a few internet clicks away. With one exception: head-on shrimp.

Head-on shrimp are a necessary ingredient for one of my favorite dishes--New Orleans BBQ shrimp. When we lived in San Francisco, it was an easy walk to Chinatown where finding the shrimp intact was no problem, but then, as we moved, first north of San Francisco, then south of Santa Barbara, and then, here, north of San Luis Obispo, finding head-on shrimp proved more difficult than finding the proverbial needle in the haystack. When I'd ask at the fish counter for them, I was given that 'look' and asked what I could possibly want the heads for; there was no point in explaining.

Then, last weekend when I rounded the corner and found myself staring straight smack at a pile of head-on shrimp in the fish case, I pinched myself, not once, but twice, thinking I was suffering the aftereffects of my trip to the gym. Cautiously, I approached the counter. Sure enough--head-on shrimp and best of all, they were from the Gulf of Mexico.

Mr. B was in for a real treat.

This recipe is based on one from my husband's maternal grandmother, Lil LaBiche. Of course, I had to add some vermouth to it and a drizzle of worcestershire sauce. Oh, and sliced lemons.

Figure on one pound of shrimp per person; more if you have Cajuns in the house.

Lil LaBiche's BBQ Shrimp Recipe

2 1/2 pounds head-on shrimp, washed; loose legs and antennas removed
1 stick unsalted butter
6 garlic toes, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
5 bay leaves
Black pepper
White Vermouth
1 1/2 T. Worcestershire sauce
1 lemon thinly sliced

Preheat over to 350ยบ. Lay shrimp in a single layer in a baking dish. Scatter the garlic and rosemary over the shrimp. Slice the butter into thin slices and evenly distribute over the shrimp. Shake on the black pepper. Do not scrimp on the black pepper; the rule of thumb is to put on so much black pepper that you think you've ruined the dish, and then you add a little more. Tuck in the bay leaves; drizzle on the worcestershire sauce and then pour about 1/2 cup of the white vermouth over the mix. Top with the sliced lemons and put into the oven.

Cook; stirring once or twice, until the shrimp are cooked through. Want to know how to tell? Grab one, peel it and eat it.

Serve the shrimp with hot crusty bread and ice cold Abita beer.

*Note: The heads are where all flavor is, so when eating the shrimp, once you pull off the head, gently give it a squeeze and suck out the juices.

Peel any leftover shrimp and put into a container along with any remaining sauce. Serve this in the morning, over grits with eggs.


  1. I can't do head on shrimp, although I do buy them because they are cheaper - then toss the heads in seasoned corn startch and fry them up for my husband - he loves them!

    Here is my lighter version of NO bbq shrimp - I need to make this again soon!


  2. Yep. I love fried shrimp heads, too.

  3. This sounds wonderful. Is there a substitute for vermouth as far as a wine goes? Don't have a bottle of Vermouth in my cabinet now.

  4. Hi, Donn. You could use any white wine in place of the vermouth. Let me know how you like the recipe.


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