This recipe was originally featured in The 30 Second Wine Advisor's FoodLetter on Thursday, Jan. 27, 2005.

Joseph Carey's Shrimp and Ham Jambalaya

INGREDIENTS: (Serves two with ample leftovers)

Shells from the shrimp listed below
1 rib celery
1 carrot
1 clove garlic
1/4 medium yellow onion
1 bay leaf
1 sprig thyme
1/2 teaspoon (2g) salt
12 peppercorns
2 cups water

1 medium yellow onion
1 green bell pepper
2 ribs celery
2 cloves garlic
8 ounces (240g) large shrimp in their shells
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 or 2 bay leaves
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 14-ounce (411g) can tomatoes
Dried red-pepper flakes
1 teaspoon fresh cilantro
4 ounces ham
1 cup shrimp stock (see above)
1 tablespoon (15 grams) cornstarch
Black pepper
Louisiana-style hot sauce


1. First, make the shrimp stock. Shell the shrimp that you'll be using in the recipe, and store them in the refrigerator. Put the shells in a saucepan with all the remaining stock ingredients. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a very low simmer and let cook for about an hour. Strain through a strainer lined with paper towels, discarding the solids. You'll need 1 cup.

2. The actual cooking process goes quickly, so you'll want to do all your chopping, measuring and prep work before you fire up your skillet or wok. Once you're ready to begin, the process only takes a few moments, so you'll also want to remember to get a ration of rice started before you cook.

3. Peel the onion and cut it vertically into quarters; then slice each quarter crosswise so the slices fall into long julienne-like strips. Remove and discard the green pepper's seeds and ribs, and cut the pepper into thin julienne strips. Cut the celery into thin slices and mince the garlic fine. Cut the ham into julienne strips or dice, and coarsely chop the tomatoes, reserving them with all their liquid. Dissolve the corn starch in a small amount of the shrimp stock, reserving the rest. Measure out all the other ingredients.

4. In a large, heavy skillet or, if you prefer, a wok, heat the peanut oil until it's sizzling. Sautee the onions, green pepper, celery over high heat until they start to brown; add the minced garlic and the peeled shrimp and continue cooking just until the shrimp start to turn pink; don't overcook.

5. Add the tomatoes and their juice, the cilantro, and dried red-pepper flakes to taste. Don't overdo, you can always add more hot sauce later. (VARIATION: I added a bit more flavor with a "secret ingredient," 2 tablespoons of Heinz Chili Sauce.) Add the shrimp stock, stir to combine all ingredients, and bring back to the boil. Turn down heat to low, stir in the dissolved cornstarch, and cook just until the sauce thickens and turns clear. Adjust seasoning with salt, pepper and hot sauce to taste. (VARIATION: I substituted garlicky Vietnamese sriracha sauce for the more traditional Tabasco.) Serve over steaming white rice.

As I've often preached, dry table wines aren't ideally suited to fiery fare. This dish, however, is about balance and layered complex flavors, and I held the hot stuff to rational levels as an accent, not a dominating force. It worked very well indeed with a bone-dry Provence rosé, the excellent Domaine de Fondreche 2003 Cotes du Ventoux "Instant" rosé.

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