New Orleans BBQ Shrimp | Food | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

New Orleans BBQ Shrimp

It’s a bit of a mystery how this iconic dish got its name.

You will no doubt notice that there is no grill or barbeque sauce involved in making this “barbeque shrimp.” Like many things in New Orleans, it’s a bit of a mystery how this iconic dish got its name. We do know that the chef at Pascal’s Manale, in NOLA, invented the dish in 1953. Today, it is served all over. This is my version — a go-to preparation when a friend or family member would pay a visit with a sack of fresh shrimp caught that day.


  • 2 pounds head-on, wild-caught Gulf shrimp (it’ll be much less flavorful made with headless shrimp and shouldn’t be made with peeled shrimp)
  • 1-1½ sticks good butter
  • About ¼ cup spice mix comprised of 3 tbsp. paprika, 1 tbsp. garlic powder, 1 tbsp. onion powder, 1 tbsp. oregano, big pinches of thyme and basil, ½ tsp. orange peel, and as much cayenne, salt, black pepper, white pepper and bay leaf as you like.
  • A few dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • A few dashes Louisiana hot sauce
  • ¼ of an orange
  • 3 lemons


Melt the butter over medium-high heat in a cast iron or other heavy-bottomed pot that will hold all the shrimp. When butter is nice and foamy, stir in half or more of the spice mix; for a very intense sauce, use all of it. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly, until it becomes fragrant (careful not to burn!). Add in the Worcestershire and hot sauces. Squeeze in orange juice and the juice of half a lemon. Turn the heat to high, and throw the shrimp in all together. Stir immediately to coat them in seasoned butter; then stir about once every minute until just pink and cooked through, about 5-7 minutes. Do not overcook. Remove from heat; shrimp will keep cooking in residual heat. Squirt all over with the juice of one lemon. Serve over grits or with French bread and lemon wedges. To make a meal, add a simple green salad. Don’t forget to suck the good juices from shrimp heads and enjoy plenty of ice-cold beer alongside. Serves two very hungry or four moderately hungry people.

Tallulah’s Pop-up is open 7 p.m.- 12:30 a.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and 8 p.m.-1:30 a.m. Fridays at Sonny’s Tavern, 630 S. Millvale Ave., Bloomfield. Catering also provided.

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