This recipe is inspired by the stuffed shrimp served at the seafood restaurant where I worked when I first graduated from college. I have no idea what they put in their crabmeat stuffing, and my recipe has certainly evolved over the years, but the basic idea of butterflying a shrimp, filling it with deviled crab, and baking it remains the same. This is one of my favorites to cook for out-of-town visitors to Charleston, since it lets me use fresh local jumbo shrimp. The crab meat is usually not local (in this case the tub I bought was from Bayou La Batre, Alabama), but I try to get as good a batch of crab meat I can--backfin, in this case. It's pretty expensive, though. Cheaper canned crab meat won't be quite as good, but it will still do.
The recipe below uses a full pound of crab meat, which makes enough stuffing for forty shrimp (8 - 10 servings). I usually freeze half of the deviled crab and use it later for crab cakes or a second batch of stuffed shrimp.
1 lb. crab meat (backfin)
1/4 cup mayonaisse (homemade if you've got it)
1/4 cup minced onion
1/4 cup minced green or red pepper
couple of sprigs of parsley, minced
dollop of Dijon mustard
salt & pepper to taste
a few dashes of hot sauce
about 1/2 cup bread crumbs
4 oz Swiss cheese, shredded
1.5 to 2 lbs jumbo shrimp (about 40)
Preheat the oven to 375.
First, make the deviled crab. Mix the crab meat, egg, mayonaisse, onion, bell pepper, parsley, mustard, salt, pepper, and hot sauce in a bowl. Add enough bread crumbs to make the mixture thick and bound together. Then mix in the Swiss cheese. (If you are going to freeze any of the deviled crab, leave out the cheese and add it later when you are ready to use it.)
Mixing the deviled crab
Next, clean the shrimp, removing all but the tails and last section of shell, and butterfly them. There are fancy tools sold to help you do this, but I just use a sharp paring knife. Hold the shrimp between your thumb and forefinger with one hand, slice along the ridge of its back with the knife, and remove the black vein inside.
Once they are butterflied, lay the shrimps in a baking pan, pressing the butterflied sections outward to make a flat cup for the stuffing.
Butterflied shrimp awaiting its stuffing
Spoon a small ball of the deviled crab into each of the shrimp and brush the tops with melted butter.
Stuffed and ready for the oven
Bake the shrimps at 375 degrees for about 15 minutes, until the flesh of the shrimp is pink and the stuffing is starting to turn brown. I usually turn on the broiler of the oven at this point to finish toasting the tops, giving them a golden brown sheen. Remove from the oven, brush on a little more melted butter, sprinkle a little paprika over the tops, and you are ready to go.
On the plate
I serve these with freshly-made cocktail sauce, and they are a hit either as an appetizer or a main course. As an appetizer, arrange on a tray with lemon wedges and cocktail sauce for dipping (see Cocktail Sauce for the recipe) . For a main course, I usually serve them with rice or potatoes and plenty of crusty bread.
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