Jul 012013

I had a plate of spicy, boozy glazed shrimp substantially similar to these in a restaurant a few years ago; after using bread to sop up every last remainder of the sauce, I thought, “I must reverse-engineer these.” (The restaurant is now closed, else I’d link them here; I guess word about these shrimp never got out.)

Spicy Bourbon Shrimp, plated with vegetables

Spicy Bourbon Shrimp, plated with vegetables

I don’t know how similar my final formulation is to the erstwhile restaurant’s, but I’ve grown inordinately fond of this dish and I’m  done revising the sauce– this is a winner.

The sauce is created following general, popular steps for a modern-day pan sauce:

1. Briefly saute your diced aromatics, (such as shallots, onions, garlic) in a cooking fat.

2. Pour off the excess fat if any and add your alcohol; reduce the alcohol over high heat.

3. Add your non-alcoholic liquids, reduce over high heat.

4. Optional step– we won’t be using it for this particular sauce. But if you’re making a cream sauce, lower the heat and once the sauce stops bubbling, add the cream. Reduce on lowered heat if necessary.

5. Monter a buerre (this is a French term used in professional kitchens; it means “to build with butter,”  and in practice it means to add butter to your pan sauce right before serving, quickly swirling it in to incorporate. This makes the sauce glossy and rich.)

Spicy Bourbon Shrimp, plated with vegetables. Obligatory bourbon-based cocktail in the background.

Spicy Bourbon Shrimp, plated with vegetables. Obligatory bourbon-based cocktail in the background.

Here’s my recipe for Spicy Bourbon Shrimp, following the pan-sauce development technique outlined above. Serve these shrimp over grits, rice, or vegetables, or with a hunk of crusty bread.

Spicy Bourbon Shrimp from indieculinary.com


  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined (and thawed, if you're using frozen shrimp.)
  • 3/4 cup bourbon
  • 1/2 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 white onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 stick of unsalted butter, separated into 2 equal parts of 1/4 stick each
  • 2 tablespoons Louisiana hot sauce (I recommend Frank's Red Hot) to start, plus more to taste
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar


  1. Saute diced onions and minced garlic in 1/4 stick of butter until onions are clear.
  2. Add bourbon, turn heat to high. Bourbon should be boiling rapidly. Reduce by half.
  3. Add soy sauce, hot sauce, and brown sugar, and reduce by 1/2. The sauce will quickly become syrupy.
  4. Add shrimp; saute in the sauce for about 5 minutes until shrimp are done.
  5. Remove from heat and immediately add remaining 1/4 stick of butter, swirling to melt and incorporate.
  6. Serve over grits, rice, vegetables, or with crusty bread.



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