Barbecued Shrimp Roll

Last week I had the opportunity to spend a week in Galveston at UTMB, where I participated in a biotechnology workshop for high school teachers.  Spending time in the lab meant not being able to soak up rays on the beach, but I knew before I left that I wouldn’t have time to lounge around and that I’d be plenty busy.

What I did look forward to (besides getting out of suburbia for a week) was the seafood.  You can’t go to the island and NOT take advantage of the fresh Gulf seafood, which I made sure to do nearly every day that we were there.  Getting fresh seafood up here is nearly an exercise in futility.  I say nearly, because you can get it, but it will cost you a pretty penny.  Most of what we get up here is farmed, and is frozen before purchase.   If I am going to eat seafood, I prefer mine to be as fresh as possible.  And since we were going to be on the Gulf, what better place to get fresh seafood to cart home with us?  So off we went.

Before we departed on Friday for home, SB and I stopped at Katie’s Seafood Market, which backs up to the water so that the fishing boats can drop off their day’s catch.  I wanted to take home some flounder, shrimp and whatever other fish caught our fancy.

Fresh fish, caught daily, fileted and scaled if that's your preference.

We ended up taking home several pounds of flounder, some catfish filets, and some scallops and shrimp for me (SB is allergic to shellfish of all sorts).  Last night, I took some of our bounty and made dinner for the two of us–baked flounder in foil packet for SB, and a barbecued shrimp roll for me.

It's a Southern version of the New England lobster roll, with a bite.

I’d been jonesing for a lobster roll–the sandwich made famous by Northeasterners and commonly found all up and down the East Coast.  But since I didn’t have any lobster, I figured shrimp would make a fine stand-in.  I am not a fan of mayo or mayo-based salads, so I wasn’t going to make a shrimp roll in the same fashion as a traditional lobster roll.  I thought perhaps New Orleans style barbecued shrimp might make a good sandwich instead, so that’s the route I took.  I used a barbecue rub to season the shrimp, and added a couple of tablespoons of a spicy barbecue sauce to flavor them.  I did use a roll that I could top-split, as lobster rolls customarily come in a top-split buttered roll.  I did at least preserve that part of the sandwich from its original form.  I did use a whole wheat roll, though, so that might rankle purists a bit more than I already have.

The sandwich turned out really good, and I’d definitely make it again, but I think next time, I’ll get over myself and buy peeled, deveined shrimp that’s probably been frozen before it got to me.  Why?  Because peeling and deveining shrimp is time-consuming (now I know why it costs so damned much), and shrimp poop is just plain gross.  So here’s how I made my version of a lobster roll.

You will need:

  • 1 pound uncooked large (28-30 count) shrimp, rinsed, peeled and deveined*
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons barbecue rub seasoning (I used Fox Bros’)
  • 3 tablespoons barbecue sauce (I used Rufus Teague Touch o’ Heat)
  • 2 bakery style hot dog rolls, top-split (my grocery store’s bakery sells them unsplit; alternatively, you can use hoagie rolls)
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • lettuce

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.  Split the rolls along the top side, being careful not to split them so far that you get two pieces.  Smear the inside of them with the butter.  You will toast them in the oven for about 10-15 minutes.

While the rolls are toasting, heat the olive oil in a skillet.  When the oil is hot, add the shrimp, and stir them around quickly, cooking them until they lose their translucent quality.  Right before they are done, sprinkle the barbecue seasoning on, and stir to coat the shrimp evenly.  Then add the barbecue sauce, stirring so that the sauce covers all the shrimp.  Since shrimp cook very quickly, you may have to set them aside while your rolls toast.  If this is the case, put the shrimp in a bowl and cover with foil until the rolls are done.

When the rolls are finished toasting, stuff a lettuce leaf or two into them, and then generously stuff them with the shrimp.  The directions above make two pretty good sized sandwiches, but this can be modified to make smaller ones.

*for the love of all that is holy, make sure your shrimp is deveined.  Otherwise you are going to eat shrimp poop.  This is an easy task that requires a paring knife and running water.  You will turn the shrimp so that if the head were there, it would be facing away from you.  Using the paring knife, carefully cut into the shrimp’s back, but not so much that you butterfly the little guy.  You will most likely see a black stringy thing–that’s the digestive tract, and usually contains shrimp feces.  Remove this, and rinse the little guy out, because sometimes, that tract is stubborn.  You really, really don’t want to eat this.  Just remember, the bigger the shrimp, the bigger the poop.

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