Shrimp Pilau #2

by Jul 8, 2010Seafood0 comments

My friend, Nikki Merritt, turned me on to Shrimp Pilau, and the recipe she gave me is excellent. I did some researching on “pilau,” though, and saw that it’s very much like a jambalaya I’m more accustomed to cooking, but using bacon instead of sausage, and with less in the way of Louisiana style seasonings. I’ve tried a couple of different variations of this and have had good results.

For more on South Carolina cuisine, visit this article at Charleston Magazine – “40 VERY Charleston Dishes.” As usual, feel free to experiment. We hope you enjoy.


3 pounds head-on wild Gulf shrimp (9-12 count)
2 pounds sliced bacon, cut into bite sized pieces
1 large onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, minced
1 green bell pepper, cleaned and chopped
1 red pepper, cleaned and chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 14oz cans tomatoes, chopped
1 1/2 cups brown rice
5 Bay leaves
salt & pepper (red, white, and black – about 1/4 tsp each)
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1-2 sprigs fresh rosemary (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
1 teaspoon dry basil (or a few leaves fresh)
2 teaspoons sugar


Peel and de-vein shrimp, placing heads and peels in a stock pot. Cover shells with cold water and bring to a boil. Simmer 30 minutes to 2 hours.

Cut shrimp into halves or thirds, and season up however you like. I prefer a good dose of garlic powder, cayenne, onion powder, salt, etc. Be creative. Use a prepared Cajun seasoning like Cachere’s if desired. Stir to coat, and hold in refrigerator until later.

While stock is cooking, place bacon in dutch oven and cook until nearly crisp. Set bacon aside on paper towels to drain. Remove most of the bacon fat, but reserve a few tablespoons in the pan for cooking the vegetables.

Into hot bacon fat, add onion. Then celery, then bell peppers and garlic. Cook for a few minutes; then add tomatoes, including juice. Bring to a simmer. Add bay leaves. And other seasonings.

Drain shrimp stock, discarding heads and peels. Measure remaining stock, and return to a boil, cooking down to 2 – 2 1/2 cups. Add stock to pot of vegetables. Stir in rice.

Bring to a simmer, and cover. Cook for 45 minutes. Or until liquid is absorbed, and rice is tender. It’s okay if not all liquid is absorbed.

When rice is tender, stir in bacon and allow to heat through. Then, stir in the shrimp, folding constantly to distribute cooking heat evenly. Cook just until pink.

At this point, you may stir in some filé powder if desired.

Remove from heat. Allow to rest for 10 minutes; then serve up in big bowl with plenty of your favorite hot sauce.