Camp chef cooks Creole seafood classics

David Rouse pursues his passion for cooking at a Louisiana fishing guide camp. And Southern Exposure Inland Fishing Charters is as well-known for its food as its fishing.

A recent customer was heard to exclaim, “This isn’t a fishing charter with great food — it’s a food charter with great fishing.”

David is responsible for the kitchen. But he received his professional training in a roundabout way.

“I was a longtime landscape contractor who got burned out after Hurricane Katrina. I already had my B.S., but three years after the storm, I went back to school at John Folse Culinary Institute at Nicholls State University. I attended for two years, while I was married with three kids and still running my landscape contracting business.”

David Rouse’s personal love of cooking received the benefit of professional training in culinary school.
David Rouse’s personal love of cooking received the benefit of professional training in culinary school.

He worked for fine dining restaurants in New Orleans for a period of time. “TV glamorizes chef life. When you do it full time, it’s not that glamorous—long hours, employee problems and less money than people think it is.

“I got out of restaurants and did small catering for a while. Then Creighton Ward, one of the owners of Southern Exposure Inland Fishing Charters, approached me.

“All we cook here is seafood. That’s what everyone likes. In the evening before clients’ charter trips, I cook six courses and hors d’oeuvres. Next morning, I make a full breakfast and pack a lunch for on the boat.”

Barbecue Shrimp and Sweet Potato Grits

“The idea of putting sweet potatoes in grits came to me while I was playing with ideas in the culinary school kitchen,” David said. “Sweet potatoes add a little sweetness to the hot taste of the barbecue. I like to add sweetness to pepper.

“I use a lot of butter in this dish — a lot,” he said, arching his eyebrows. “This isn’t low-calorie. And I add Gruyère cheese to make the dish creamier.”

Only after the barbecue sauce is finished is it ladled over the shrimp.
Only after the barbecue sauce is finished is it ladled over the shrimp.

Without a doubt, we found that the sweet potatoes added a dimension to the dish that we hadn’t tasted before — and the shrimp were divine.

TIP: Spray your grater with non-stick spray before using to prevent the cheese from sticking. It will also be much easier to wash.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes
  • 4 lb. head-on large shrimp
  • Creole seasoning to taste
  • 1/2 cup grated Gruyère cheese
  • 2 tbsp. Creole Seasoning
  • 3 1/2 tsp. cracked red pepper
  • 3 1/2 tsp. dried rosemary
  • 3 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 3 1/2 sticks + 2 tbsp. butter
  • 2 oz. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 oz. dry white wine
  • 2 tbsp. hot sauce
  • 14 oz. Abita Amber beer (drink the rest)
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 cup quick grits
  • 12 oz. chicken stock
  • Salt and white pepper to taste
  • French bread

PREPARATION: Serves 6-8.

Wrap sweet potatoes in foil and perforate each several times with a fork. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour or until soft. Wash the shrimp and place them in a large pan. Sprinkle them generously with Creole seasoning and mix. Set aside in a refrigerator. Shred the cheese and set aside. In a small bowl, combine Creole seasoning, cracked red pepper, rosemary and thyme and mix thoroughly to make a barbecue seasoning mix. Melt 3 ½ sticks of butter in a large sauce pan. Add Worcestershire, wine, hot sauce and beer. Salt to taste. Simmer 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in the barbecue seasoning. Add salt if needed. Pour the sauce over the shrimp and bake at 450 degrees for 20-30 minutes, until the shrimp are opaque and pink. Turn every 10 minutes. Do not overcook. In a separate pot, melt 2 tbsp. butter. Add grits and chicken stock. Cook 5 minutes, stirring often, until the grits begin to tighten up. Peel and mash the sweet potatoes and then fold them into the grits. Stir in the grated cheese and mix well. Add salt and white pepper to taste. Ladle shrimp over the grits in bowls. Serve with French bread to sop up the juices.

Barbecue shrimp and sweet potato grits offers the contrasting tastes of spicy and sweet.
Barbecue shrimp and sweet potato grits offers the contrasting tastes of spicy and sweet.

Corn and Crab Bisque

INGREDIENTS:

  • 5 tbsp. butter
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 8 oz. frozen corn, microwaved on high for 4 minutes
  • 1 tsp. Creole seasoning
  • 1/2 tbsp. Cayenne pepper
  • 1 capful liquid crab boil seasoning
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. flour
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 12 oz. chicken broth
  • 12 oz. crab claw meat
  • 12 oz. heavy cream

PREPARATION: Serves 6-8.

Melt butter in a large saucepan. Add celery, onion, and bell peppers. Add cooked corn, Creole seasoning, cayenne pepper and liquid crab boil. Stir to mix well. Whisk in flour and simmer for 3 to 4 minutes until thick. Add garlic and broth and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring periodically. Fold in the crab meat, add cream and bring to a boil.

David Rouse’s corn and crab bisque makes a hearty meal on a cold winter’s night.
David Rouse’s corn and crab bisque makes a hearty meal on a cold winter’s night.

Jerald Horst
About Jerald Horst 950 Articles
Jerald Horst is a retired Louisiana State University professor of fisheries. He is an active writer, book author and outdoorsman.