Have you ever been to The Boiling Crab? It’s a small chain of Viet-Cajun restaurants in Alhambra, Garden Grove and Koreatown and they serve up the messiest, most delicious shrimp (and other shellfish) ever. Just ever. Simon Majumdar gushed about it on Best Thing I Ever Ate and my family and I — and pretty much everyone I know in the Los Angeles area — have been going there for years.
The thing to order? A pound (or two or three) of shrimp in the Whole Shebang sauce. It comes in a heavy duty plastic bag, the shrimp swimming around in the buttery, flavor-filled, sometimes spicy sauce. Bite off the head, suck out all the yummy brain juices, then eat the shrimp, shell on and all. Maybe ask for an ear of corn in the bag. And get a side of Cajun fries. Oh, and white rice. (And you know what else is really good there? The chicken wings.) Amazing.
I’ve been trying to replicate this Whole Shebang sauce for awhile now, to little success. I’ve even come up with a non-saucy version of Cajun shrimp but the only thing in common it has with The Boiling Crab’s shrimp is its cuisine type.
I came across this Chow recipe yesterday and it just… felt right. Well, mostly right. I made a few changes (like nixing red jalapeños and instead adding cayenne pepper and onion powder) and it tasted verrrry similar to The Boiling Crab’s. The best part? It’s easy. Really. It roasts in the oven in less than 10 minutes.
Serves: 4 entrees (or 6 appetizers)
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 8 minutes
1 pound large shrimp, head and shells on
1-1/4 cup water
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Juice of 1 lemon
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
1 cup shrimp stock (recipe in Step 1)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1. Make a quick shrimp stock: Remove the shrimp heads and transfer to a 2-quart saucepan. Pour the water over the shrimp heads and bring to a low boil, then reduce to simmer for 30 to 45 minutes. Strain and discard heads. Transfer the shrimp (shell on) to a large mixing bowl or casserole dish and set aside. (Pro tip: While the stock is simmering, complete Step 2.)
2. Marinate the shrimp: In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the 1/2 cup olive oil, lemon juice, minced garlic, oregano, salt, pepper, onion powder and cayenne pepper (if using). Pour over the reserved shrimp and let marinate for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
3. Preheat oven to its maximum temperature (usually 450-500 degrees) and arrange rack near the top. Place a roasting pan or deep baking sheet in the oven for 10 minutes so it gets hot.
4. Working quickly and using tongs, arrange the marinated shrimp in a single layer on the hot pan or baking sheet. Discard the marinade. Roast the shrimp until bright pink and some of the shells lightly brown, about 7-8 minutes.
5. Remove the shrimp from the oven and immediately pour the stock over them while still on the baking sheet. Finish with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and butter. Stir gently to coat. Serve with rice or French bread and enjoy!