Lent may be the season of restraint, but in Louisiana, it’s become 40 days of seafood-centric culinary creativity. From backyard boiled crawfish to indulgent chef’s specials on Fridays, there’s no shortage of good eats wrapped up in all that contemplation and sober self-sacrifice.
Last Friday — the first Friday of Lent this year, I dropped by Tony’s Seafood in Baton Rouge to check out the action. Even though it was mid-afternoon, the hot food line at Tony’s was still 25 deep. Bummer. I didn’t have time to wait for the fried catfish snack and trio of boudin balls I’d been fantasizing about driving up I-110. “Man. Look at that line,” I said to the guy bagging up my fresh shrimp. And as if it required no other explanation (even at 3:30 in the afternoon) he said, “Well, it is Lent.”
Indeed. And just as Lent is an excuse for restaurants to get creative, so it is at home. Here’s an easy, sumptuous entrée using Gulf shrimp sautéed with garlic, olive oil and veggies draped over French bread. Because it uses a little butter and Worcestershire sauce, it flirts with traditional New Orleans-style barbecued shrimp.
Garlicky Sautéed Shrimp over French Bread
¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
One red pepper, diced
One small bunch asparagus, cut into one-inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 lbs. large Gulf shrimp, cleaned
Salt and pepper to taste
One baguette, sliced long ways and toasted
Heat oil and butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Whisk in Worcestershire sauce. Add red pepper and sauté about 2 minutes. Add asparagus and sauté 2 minutes. Add garlic, shrimp and salt and pepper to taste. Sauté, stirring frequently, until shrimp turn pink. Remove from heat and serve over serving size slices of grilled or toasted baguette.