January 2020 Recipes


Crappie Shrimp Sauce & Butter Sauce

by Vernon Summerlin

Cayenne pepper is one of my favorite tongue teasers and an ingredient in many hearty dishes, from chili in the American southwest to curry in India. It is a small red pepper initially used by nomadic Central and South American people. The early explorers Ferdinand Magellan and Christopher Columbus both discovered the pepper during their travels in the French Guyana region of South America and introduced it to the rest of the world. Th e feisty pepper is used not just as food but has many medicinal applications as well.

Cayenne pepper contains the natural pain reliever Capsaicin. You may recognize it as an ingredient in many arthritis medications. Just as other joint pain relief creams, users can apply cayenne pepper topically. The initial burning effect subsides soon after application and ultimately brings relief.

Consuming cayenne pepper on a regular basis helps to boost the metabolism naturally. The body burns excess fat and calories more quickly resulting in weight loss and an overall increase in energy. It has also been shown to act as an appetite suppressant, making it easier for dieters to make it through the day without the need or desire to snack. (If you get hungry, eat a pepper)

Not only does cayenne help increase circulation and reduce the chance of blood clots, but it also benefits heart health in general. It has been shown in animal studies to help improve blood flow throughout the heart and reduce heart arrhythmias. It’s reported to reduce the formation of plaque in the arteries of the heart and, that in the event of a heart attack, diluting cayenne pepper in a cup of water can stop the attack in its tracks. I’d ask my doctor about this claim.

Although Cayenne is a natural ingredient, it can still cause an allergic reaction in some people. To be safe, start using small amounts and gradually increase it as tolerated. If you take blood-thinners or ACE inhibitors, check with your physician before using it medicinally. Because it is classed as a stimulant, be aware of combining it with other stimulants. Finally, some people may have a skin reaction to Capsaicin, the active ingredient in cayenne pepper. If you notice itching or severe burning and redness at the spot of application, stop using it topically.

These are a few of the health advantages it offers. I keep it on my table next to the salt shaker, it goes well with eggs, meat and most foods that black pepper enhances.

Crappie with Shrimp Sauce

  • 4 slab crappie fillets
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Canola oil for frying

Beat eggs and milk in a shallow dish. Mix flour, salt and cayenne pepper in another shallow dish. Dredge fish fillets in flour mixture, then in egg mixture and again in flour. Set aside. Heat oil in a deep fryer or a large, deep skillet to 360 degrees. Fry fillets until golden brown and fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Place on paper towels to drain.

Shrimp Sauce

  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 12 shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 inch strips of ham
  • 1 tablespoon dry vermouth
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon green onions, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • Salt and cayenne pepper to taste
  • Parsley sprigs and lemon wedges to garnish

Heat one tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add shrimp and sauté until light pink on both sides; do not overcook! Stir in garlic, ham strips and vermouth. Mix in cream, half of the green onions, lemon juice, salt and cayenne pepper; cook for one to two minutes to reduce cream. Remove from the heat and whisk in remaining two tablespoons of melted butter. Place fillets on serving plate and top with 3 shrimp. Arrange ham strips on top. Spoon sauce on the fish and sprinkle with remaining green onions. Garnish with lemon wedges and parsley sprigs to serve four diners. Make multiples for more tummies.

Crappie in Butter Sauce

  • 4 crappie fillets
  • 3 sticks butter
  • 1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • 4 Bay leaves
  • Sprinkle cayenne pepper on fillets to taste
  • Rosemary sprigs

Preheat oven to 350˚ F. Place the cubed butter in a large microwave-safe bowl and microwave until melted. Add remaining ingredients to the butter and combine. Place fish in a casserole dish, pour butter sauce over them, sprinkle with cayenne pepper and bake for 20 minutes. Serve with French bread for dipping.


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