For the weeks until Easter, which will be Sunday, April 12 this year, good Christians will be following a medieval pope’s command that everybody abstain from eating animal foods and stick to fish. “Fish” to me includes all seafoods. For the sake of variety, the French made the escargot (snail) an honorary fish.
No need to shudder, readers. One chooses only large snails with closed operculums showing that the snail has gone into hibernation. That means it has rid itself of any food it has eaten that, though healthy for snails, would sicken a human. Not finding any hibernating snails in your garden? Nevermind.
For lenten meals we’ll be eaten such dishes as New England Clam Chowder, Thai Shrimp and Orange Salad, Salmon Teriyaki, or Cod Baked in Diced Tomatoes, Louisiana Shrimp Gumbo, or a seafood Purlieu.
Cajun Style Shrimp Gumbo
Serves 4 to 6
2 Tablespoons light olive oil, divided
1 Tablespoon flour
1 large onion, chopped
1 (10-oz.) package frozen okra, thawed or cut green beans
1 (14.5 oz. diced tomatoes
1 lb. large cooked shelled shrimp
2 cups water
1 small bay leaf
½ teaspoon salt
2 garlic cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Cajun spice or red hot pepper flakes to taste
Make a roux: In a small pan heat 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add the flour. Stir-cook until it turns light brown. Reserve.
In the other tablespoon of oil, in a large, fairly deep pan, stir-fry the onions until limp and shiny, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and stir-fry 2-3 minutes. Add the roux, tomatoes, okra, bay leaf, salt, and Cajun spice or red pepper flakes. Stir. Simmer covered until the okra is tender, about 15 minutes. (If substituting green beans for okra, it’s okay to use a can of green beans. Add that with the shrimp. Don’t drain the beans, but cut the additional water to 1 ½ cups nor less.)
Add water and shrimp. Cook 3 to 6 minutes to heat the shrimp through. Turn off heat and let rest covered a few minutes to blend flavors.
Complete the meal with a green salad, your favorite bread and a dry white wine or apple cider.