This Tex-Mex dish is the real thing, too. When I was a kid, we lived for a few years on the Gulf Coast in Port O'Connor, Texas with Mom's parents, Big Mama and Big Daddy. He was a shrimp boat captain, so you know there was always a freezer full of jumbo shrimp he would skim off the catch.
We had shrimp fried, grilled, and, of course, steamed in rice with tomato sauce. There was always a pot of pinto beans on the stove top, so beans were mixed into the Shrimp & Rice and scooped up with warm flour tortillas homemade by Big Mama. Boy, was that a filling seafood meal. I look back on it now and realize how good we had it.
Well, I finally got around to getting Mom to make our family recipe of Shrimp & Rice for you - on camera this time.
Shrimp is quite expensive, so it's always a special occasion when Mom cooks Shrimp & Rice. And the grapevine starts simmering when it gets out Shrimp & Rice is on the menu, so expect a lot of drop-ins, like my niece Candyse.
Be sure to watch the video all the way through to check out all the freeloaders, I mean, close family -- including me, the biggest moocher of them all.
The recipe is easy to do, but there is one peculiar culinary twist, Mom learned to first saute the raw rice in oil. Toasting rice is a Mexican technique that will keep the rice from clumping and sticking together, and the rice kernels will split open when steamed. So the rice texture is different than you may be used to.
Mom doesn't saute the rice too long; just look for some of the rice grains to turn light brown, then add the wet ingredients and spices. You don't want all the rice to brown, or some will surely scorch, then you will have a slightly burnt undertaste.
The other main ingredient is a small 8 ounce cheap can of tomato sauce. Mom adds extra spice with ground cumin and creole seasoning. The Creole seasoning is a nod to her present home in Louisiana.
Click on any photo to see larger.
She also adds dried cilantro. But if you don't have cumin, cilantro or Creole seasonings then leave them out -- I'm sure they did not have those spices easily available to her mom, Big Mama, when she was growing up.
This recipe calls for a pound of peeled shrimp. Now the trick to cooking shrimp is not to overcook them. So she adds peeled shrimp during the last 10 minutes, when the rice is almost done.
You know how expensive shrimp are these days, but sometimes they do come on sale for less than $5 per pound. I even get small bay shrimp at my local Dollar Tree and 99c only Stores. But because Mom has Gulf Coast shrimp connections for free shrimp, this video recipe is going all out!
If you are fortunate to find raw unpeeled jumbo shrimp then make sure to pay attention when Mom shows you how to peel and devein a jumbo shrimp. Large shrimp sometimes have a gritty black thin vein along the shrimp backbone side. It's easy enough to remove and Mom has all the moves down pat.
Cheaper tiny Bay shrimp don't have a gritty vein to worry about, and if you get peeled and packaged shrimp they are ready to cook.
Removing vein from jumbo shrimp.
Mom's Shrimp & Rice recipe uses more water for cooking the rice than normal. She adds an extra half cup of water at the end, when she also adds the raw shrimp. She is going for a slight soupy finish - kinda like a risotto. We always had the recipe with white rice, but okay to use brown rice.
When the extra water and raw shrimp are added you finish cooking it altogether another 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the rice and shrimp set for another 10 minutes so all the flavors come together.
While you are waiting, heat up pinto beans and a few flour tortillas -- that's the Tex-Mex way. Mom always has a couple of Ziploc bags of Homemade Pinto Beans in the freezer ready to be defrosted.
My recipe to make your own Pinto Beans is a click away, here. It's okay to use any fave canned pinto beans, too.
I gotta give it up to Mom who is so generous to share her family's famous Shrimp & Rice recipe. It's actually a simple recipe made with a whole lotta love and care, just what you expect from my Mom.
Mom's Shrimp & Rice - VIDEO
Play it here, video runs 8 minutes 51 seconds.
Play it here, video runs 8 minutes 51 seconds.
My YouTube video link for viewing or embedding, just click here.
Ingredients (about 4-6 servings with pinto beans)
- 1 pound peeled shrimp - Mom uses jumbo shrimp, but it's okay to use any size shrimp you find on sale, including tiny bay shrimp or salad shrimp.
- 1 cup of rice - white or brown rice
- 2 tablespoons olive oil - okay to use regular vegetable oil. Oil is for browning the rice.
- 1/2 onion - chopped
- 2 cloves garlic - about a teaspoon chopped.
- 1/2 green bell pepper- chopped
- 1 whole green onion - chopped
- 2 1/2 cups water - to steam rice. Start with 2 cups water, then during last 10 minutes of cooking, add half a cup more.
- 8 ounce can tomato sauce - to flavor rice.
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin - optional.
- Creole seasoning to taste - optional.
- 1 teaspoon dried cilantro - optional. Okay to use fresh cilantro.
- Salt and pepper to taste - if you use Creole seasoning, it's okay to leave out salt.
First chop the veggies, so you can add them right when the rice is browned and ready to steam. Chop half an onion and 2 cloves of garlic.
Also, chop half a green bell pepper and one whole green onion.
Add 2 tablespoons of oil to a pot over low/medium heat. Pour in one cup of rice. You want to stir the rice to coat all the grains in oil, so it all cooks evenly.
Stir and saute the rice about 10 minutes (depending on the heat.) What you want is some of the rice grains to be lightly toasted and brown. It is better to under-brown than burn the rice.
Stir the rice as it browns, so it doesn't burn. When the rice is toasted add the chopped onion, garlic, bell pepper and green onion.
Saute the veggies and rice about 5 minutes, to soften veggies.
Pour in the water and a small 8 ounce of tomato sauce.
Now add the spices. One teaspoon ground cumin and dried cilantro (these spices are optional.)
Season with salt and pepper to taste. Since Mom lives in Louisiana she has to add a few big shakes of Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning (again, optional.)
Mix all the ingredients well. Turn up the heat to high and bring the rice and liquid up to a boil. As soon as it starts to boil, reduce heat to low and cover the pot of rice. You want to cook the rice at a low simmer for 20 minutes.
While the rice cooks, you prepare the shrimp if necessary. You can use prepared packaged shrimp that are already peeled and deveined.
Small Bay shrimp are usually ready to cook, and sometimes even pre-cooked. If you use precooked shrimp then you add them at the very end of this recipe. All you want to do with precooked shrimp is heat them up for no more than 5 minutes total.
If you are working with unpeeled shrimp it is not hard to clean them. Mom uses headless shrimp with the shell on. What you do is peel a couple of shell segments on where the shrimp head was. Once a couple of shell segments are removed you can pinch the tail and pull off the segments that are left, along with the tail.
Peel off shrimp shell
Sometimes the shrimp tail breaks-off, so you will have to peel each and every shrimp shell segment. As with any task, practice makes perfect, so the more you do it the better you get. Again you can use peeled shrimp that are ready to cook. You might want to go the prepared route if you have never peeled raw shrimp before.
Large and jumbo shrimp may have a gritty dark "vein" along the backside of a peeled shrimp. Just slice into the back of a shrimp and remove it. Watch the GIF below to see how Mom does it. Some shrimp have the vein and some don't -- kind of depends how large the shrimp are. Small bay shrimp don't have "veins" large enough to notice.
Because the jumbo shrimp are so large she slices each shrimp into bite sizes. For small shrimp, you can leave them whole, or just slice once or twice to make bite-sized.
Once the rice has cooked for 20 minutes uncover and add half a cup more of water. Add the peeled and sliced shrimp to rice.
Adding extra water during the final cooking phase will give Shrimp & Rice a risotto-like dampness.
Bring rice and water to a boil, reduce heat to low. Cover and cook another 10 minutes.
After 10 minutes turn off heat and let it all just set for a final ten minutes, so all the ingredients blend and flavor the Shrimp & Rice.
You can serve with flour tortillas and pinto beans - that's the way we do it, Tex-Mex style.