Shrimp perloo is a popular Lowcountry shrimp and rice dish made extra tasty with a quick, homemade shrimp stock.
I have a for-reals love of starchy, carby foods. I don’t want to say it’s because they’re bland exactly, but there’s something about rice and pasta that I can pile onto a plate and just plow through the whole thing, enjoying the last bite as much as the first bite, except for the sadness that comes with the last bite knowing that it’s the last bite.
Brown-buttered, black-peppered spaghetti in a bowl on a chilly night? Perfect! Twirling those glossy noodles round and round on the fork and then mmmmmm big bite. Am I alone in this? I mean, I know peeps love carbs (bread!), but a bowl full of plain rice or pasta? I’ll take that over a seasoned steak any day of the week.
Shrimp falls into that carby, blandy category, too. When plump and juicy and not the teensiest bit overcooked, I can eat shrimp in a way that I can’t most seafood (fish tastes fishy!).
So shrimp perloo (pronounced “pur-low”) was love at first site. Similar to jambalaya, shrimp perloo is a much loved Lowcountry dish from our coastal friends in the South that features a deeply flavorful stock, aromatics like onions, celery, and bell peppers (known as the Holy Trinity of Cajun cooking) sauteed in bacon grease, mixed into rice, and topped with a simple protein cooked right in the same pot.
Next to soup, this is comfiest comfort food SoupAddict can think of. It’s the perfect Saturday dish, when you don’t want to cook all day long (leaves to rake and jump into!), but are willing to invest a little extra time in dinner to make it special.
You can make shrimp perloo with vegetable stock, or a quality store-bought shellfish stock, but making homemade shrimp stock is so simple, and a great way to participate in “nose-to-tail,” no-waste cooking. Buy extra large shrimp in the shell — whole shrimp, if you’re lucky enough to have a quality source — and make fresh broth from the shells (plus the heads, if you bought whole), some onions, celery, and herbs. Toss it all in a pot with water and simmer for a half hour or more. Sooo much better than run-of-the-mill stock — you’ll taste the difference.
Between the Holy Trinity sauteeing on the front burner, and the shrimp stock simmering on the back burner, your kitchen will smell like the best home-style cookin’ restaurant you’ve ever walked into.
I also love how bright and colorful shrimp perloo is, and the super plump shrimp are so enticing, I could hardly keep my fork out of it long enough to take pictures.
for the shrimp stock
- scant tablespoon olive oil
- shells from 2 pounds of jumbo shrimp
- 1/2 cup roughly chopped celery (about two ribs)
- 1/2 cup roughly chopped onions (about half of a medium)
- 3 1/2 cups water
- 2 to 3 stems of fresh thyme
- 2 bay leaves
for the perloo
- 4 slices thick cut bacon , chopped
- 1 cup chopped onions (about one medium)
- 1 cup chopped celery (3 to 4 ribs)
- 1 green or red bell pepper , seeded and chopped
- 3 cloves garlic , peeled and minced
- 1 1/2 cups long grain white rice , rinsed and drained
- 1/4 cup white wine (optional)
- 14 ounces small dice tomatoes
- 2 tablespoon fresh parsley , chopped fresh parsley, plus more for garnish
- 2 pounds jumbo shrimp with shells , peeled and deveined
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
make the shrimp stock
- Heat oil in a medium sauce pan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the shrimp shells, celery, and onions, and saute until the brown spots appear on the shrimp shells.
- Add water, thyme, and bay leaves, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer, and cook for 30 minutes.
make the perloo
- Towards the end of the stock's cooking time, place the bacon pieces in a cold 4 quart Dutch oven or saute pan (you'll need a lid or foil to cover), and turn on heat to medium. Cook until the bacon is crisp and the fat has rendered. Remove the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate, and set aside.
- Add the onions, celery, and peppers to the pot, and saute until the onions are soft and starting to go translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and stir well. Pour in the wine, if using, and simmer until evaporated/incorporated into the rice (just a few minutes). Add the tomatoes and parsley and mix into the rice.
- Strain the shrimp stock through a fine mesh sieve, pressing down on the solids with a spatula to extract every last drop (discard the solids). You should have about 3 cups of stock (if less, top off with plain water).
- Add the stock to the rice mixture and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to maintain a zippy simmer. Cover the pot and cook the rice for 15 minutes, or until the liquid has been absorbed.
- Add the shrimp on top, spread out in a single layer (if possible). Cover, and cook for 5 minutes more, or until the shrimp is opaque with pink edges and plump. Add the reserved bacon, and gently fold the shrimp into the rice, taking care to "fluff" rather than "stir," which might make the rice gummy.
- Season with a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper, top with a sprinkle of chopped parsley, and serve.