I can't even think about fried food right now. All I want is a big salad or a piece of poached fish. Simple, healthy, clean. Shrimp fritters are a no-go in my life. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't enjoy them. I'm sure at some point I'll recover from our trip to NOLA, but for the next few weeks, I'm keeping things light. That's what five days of shrimp and grits, fried oyster po' boys, beignets, and Sazeracs will do to a person. No regrets, though. None at all.
Our time in New Orleans was memorable and we left with a good feel for the city. When we travel, I like to do one activity each day and we managed to do that. On our first day, we took the trolley up to the sculpture garden, which is situated in City Park next to the New Orleans Museum of Art. Entry to the garden is free, and one can easily spend an hour perusing the 63 sculptures.
Looking to get a bit more general history of the city, we signed up for a guided tour of St. Louis Cemetery 1. The hour and a half spent walking with our guide was packed with information (some of which I'm sure we missed since he spoke at a dizzying pace). Having now seen the above-ground vaults, I need to watch the infamous scene from Easy Rider again. Apparently (and not terribly surprising), part of the movie was filmed without permission from the city and, ever since 1969, no other films have been allowed to shoot inside the cemetery.
Our third day was a bit rainy, which made for the perfect museum day. The Ogden was down the street from where we were staying. A relatively compact museum, the exhibits gave us a great foundation on Southern art.
But the part I'll remember the most was what we did on our last day. A friend who lives locally offered to pick us up to drive around the Ninth Ward. While a few buildings have been constructed over the years since Hurricane Katrina (mainly those financed by Brad Pitt), not much has been developed in this area. There are huge gaps between the houses. Instead of a city, it resembles a more rural neighborhood. A number of these houses are in a state of complete disrepair and should have been demolished years ago. Yet they haven't been touched and just sit there. It's a sobering sight; one that anyone visiting New Orleans should see.
I'm not sure when Eric and I will have a chance to return for another visit, but we already have a list of eats, drinks and landmarks we missed on this trip. And speaking of dining, I'll be sure to share my recommendations later this week.
Back to these fritters! So, see that book down there? These fritters are a result of that beautiful book by Ashley Rodriguez (of Not Without Salt fame). I've read through Date Night In once already (a sign of a stellar cookbook is that you read it from cover to cover) and have already gone back through passages. I just love them so much. Now, shrimp fritters aren't in the book, but a tzatziki dressing is and I went off of that. Because a fried frittery thing, especially one with a bit of a kick, needs a yogurt dipping sauce to cool things down (I should note that I modified it a bit by adding some chipotle pepper to give it a little smokiness).
Shrimp Fritters with Chipotle Tzatziki
Sources: Fritters adapted from Emeril Lagasse's recipe via Food Network; Tzatziki adapted from Date Night In by Ashley Rodriguez
Yields: approx. 2 dozen fritters
For the shrimp fritters 2 tablespoons vegetable oil 1/4 cup chopped green onion 1/4 cup chopped fennel 1 pound large shrimp, peeled, deveined, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces 1 tablespoon chopped garlic 1 tsp dried oregano 3 eggs, beaten 1 1/2 cup milk 2 teaspoons baking powder Salt Cayenne 3 1/4 cups flour Corn oil, for frying
For the chipotle tzatziki 1 cup plain Greek yogurt 2 teaspoons lemon juice 1 tablespoon Champagne vinegar 1/2 cucumber, seeded and chopped into small cubes 1 garlic clove, minced 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint 2 teaspoons fresh dill, minced 1 tsp ground chipotle pepper
1. Prepare the chipotle tzatziki by mixing together all the ingredients in a bowl. Season with salt and let sit in the refrigerator until you're ready to serve the fritters.
2. Heat the vegetable oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the green onion and fennel. Cook for about 3 minutes, until softened. Add the shrimp season with oregano and salt, and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Remove from heat.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of cayenne. Add the flour mixture, 1/4 cup at a time, to the egg mixture. Once it is fully incorporated, fold shrimp mixture into batter.
4. Pour corn oil in a large, deep saucepan so it comes up 3 inches. Heat the corn oil to 360 degrees F. Drop the batter, a heaping tablespoon at a time, into the hot oil. When the fritters pop to the surface, roll them around with a slotted spoon in the oil to brown them evenly. Remove and drain on paper towels. Serve with chipotle tzatziki.