I am so so excited for this blog post because this is a dish I’ve been wanting to make for a long time. I’ve seen multiple variations of seafood boils over the years like crawfish boils, shrimp boils, and crab boils. They all looked so good but also foreign to me because I am not from a place where this was a thing. Seafood however has always been a huge part of my life as it is a big part of Vietnamese cuisine. That’s why I thought it would be cool to mix Cajun and Vietnamese flavors to create this Vietnamese Cajun shrimp boil.
The inspiration for this Vietnamese cajun shrimp boil recipe
Many Vietnamese immigrants who settled in the US were fisherman, and they ended up seeking similar jobs when they came here. Many of them settled in Southern states. In addition to their skills, they also brought their culture, their traditions, and their food. These immigrants adapted their cuisine to their new home by mixing Vietnamese and Cajun flavors. That’s how Vietnamese Cajun cuisine came to be. You can see this happening in places like Houston, where this fusion originated. I really wanted this shrimp boil to be a homage to those Vietnamese immigrants and their story. This shrimp boil combines Vietnamese ingredients like lemongrass and ginger with cajun spices, creating a spicy, umami flavor combination.
Ingredients, Substitutions & Adjustments
- Lemons – Adds brightness to the broth. Lemon pairs well with seafood.
- Old Bay seasoning – This seasoning mix is used in every seafood boil. It is a combination of celery salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes, and paprika.
- Yellow onion – Adds sweetness to the broth. A good substitute for yellow onion is a white onion.
- Garlic – Adds flavor to the broth.
- Vietnamese flavors (Lemongrass & Ginger) – These ingredients add subtle herbal and sour flavors to the broth.
- Red potatoes, corn, and Andouille sausages – These ingredients are what are typically found in a shrimp boil. Any kind of smoked sausage would be a good substitute for Andouille sausage.
- Shrimp – You can choose any kind of seafood you want for this recipe. I chose shrimp because it is my favorite. Other good options are crab, crawfish, and lobster.
- Unsalted butter – Butter is used to make the sauce that goes on top of the shrimp boil. I would recommend using unsalted butter, so you can control the salt content. If you feel it needs more seasoning, simply add a pinch of salt.
- Parsley for garnish – Adds nice color and freshness to the shrimp boil.
Making my Vietnamese cajun shrimp boil
Combine 10 cups of water, 2 lemons, Old Bay seasoning, onion, garlic, lemongrass, and ginger in a large pot. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 15 minutes. Next add in the red potatoes and cook for 5-10 minutes. The cook time will depend on the size of your potatoes. After the potatoes, add in the corn and Andouille sausage, and cook for 2-3 minutes. Lastly, add in the shrimp and cook for 1-2 minutes until they are cooked through. All your seafood and vegetables should be done at this point. Remove the shrimp, potatoes, corn, and sausages from the pot. Reserve a cup of the broth. You can throw away the rest of the broth or reserve it for future use. Mix the reserved broth with butter and serve on the side. Garnish the seafood with parsley, and serve with lemon wedges.
Tips on how to make the perfect Vietnamese cajun shrimp boil
Use any kind of seafood you want
The beauty of this dish is that you can use any kind of seafood you want. I chose shrimp because I love it, but you can also use crawfish, crab, or lobster.
How do you eat this dish?
Most of the time shrimp boils are served on newspaper in the middle of a large table where people can grab what they want. It’s this amazing and messy communal experience. And yes, it’s usually eaten with your hands. 🙂
What do you eat this dish with?
Shrimp boils can be eaten by itself or with sides like bread, coleslaw, and cocktail sauce. I chose to eat it with a butter sauce and a baguette. There is no right way to eat this dish, so go with your gut! Literally.
Did you make this dish?
If you made this dish, I would love to see!
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Vietnamese Cajun Shrimp Boil
- Boil water with 2 lemons, old bay seasoning, onion, garlic, lemongrass, and ginger. Once boiling, simmer for 15 minutes.
- Next, add the potatoes and cook for 5-10 minutes. I got smaller red potatoes, so I boiled it for closer to 5 minutes.
- Add the sausages and corn and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
- Add shrimp and cook for 1-2 minutes until orange and opaque.
- Remove the shrimp, potatoes, sausage, and corn from the broth. Reserve 1 cup of broth.
- Mix the reserved broth with butter. Pour into a small bowl and serve on the side. You also have the option to pour it over the shrimp and other ingredients.
- Cut the remaining lemon into wedges. Garnish the shrimp boil with parsley and serve with lemon wedges.