Chef John Folse is respected as one of the great American chefs from Louisiana. He is a man with a deep warm voice that captures the energy of traditional Louisiana food. He believes that eating in Louisiana is a religion and not just about nutrition. As Chef Folse says, "It's an in-gathering, it's celebratory, it's a prayer of thanks for all we've been blessed with from the swamp.”
Besides being a master at the art of cooking, he is a scholar and a culinary diplomat. John Folse was born and raised in St. James Parish, Louisiana and grew up just east of the Atchafalaya Swamp. Folse grew up in a family of sugarcane farmers and great cooks. At a young age he has learned to utilize ingredients from the swamp floor pantry. Chef Folse is famous about his teaching that only the freshest food yields their true flavors. As he fondly says, “Louisiana food is best defined as the marriage of the ingredients, flavor and technique of Cajun and Creole country, with a classical plate presentation.”
Folse’s original cooking style lends itself to a diversity of cuisines known for its legendary taste. To be able to serve the foods in its truest flavors, you need to know what's in season. "When it's brown shrimp season, you eat brown shrimp. When it's white shrimp season, you eat white shrimp. When it's strawberry season, you eat strawberries”, Chef says. Locals call the brown shrimp season as Bonne Crevette, which means good shrimp.
Even during Bonne Crevette, you need to know how to choose the best quality shrimp. Most cooks only purchase whole, in-shell, raw shrimp when they're displayed over a thick fresh ice. Take note that shrimp meats must be firm, and not soft to touch. The shells must be translucent and moist, not dull or dry. They have light brown color which turns coral when cooked, and the meat is white with coral shin tones.
If you want to master the renowned flavor of brown shrimp, you need to learn a sense of timing in your cooking. "A lot of people are worried they will undercook shrimp, but the real crime would be to overcook it and boil out all of the flavor and texture." Chef says.
Celebrate your Bonne Crevette with Chef Folse's Shrimp Scampi recipe. This is perfect for your pasta, and when paired with a glass of Alice White Chardonnay, you'll surely yield not just the truest Louisiana flavors in your brown shrimp, but a great Louisiana dining experience as well.
Chef John Folse's Shrimp Scampi
1 1/2 pounds (20-25 count) Louisiana shrimps, peeled
1/2 cup flour
Salt and cracked black pepper to taste
Tabasco Pepper Sauce to taste
1/2 cup olive oil
6 cloves garlic, sliced
1/4 cup shallots, chopped
2 tbsp fresh basil
2 tbsp fresh oregano
1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup parsley, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine
Blend flour, salt and peppers in a medium mixing bowl. Dust shrimps lightly with seasoned flour and set aside. In a large sauté pan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic, sauté for 1-2 minutes or until edges are golden. Blend in shrimp, shallots, basil and oregano. Using a slotted spoon, turn shrimp occasionally until pink and curled. Add the mushrooms and parsley, and deglaze with white wine. Serves 4.
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