The powder used to coat the pecans in this recipe was inspired by spicy Creole boiled shrimp. Using dried shrimp (which are easy to find at Asian markets) makes the process easy. All you do is roast the shrimp in the oven to get them really dried out, add a little lemon zest, and grind everything together in a spice or coffee grinder. Mix the shrimp powder with your favorite Creole seasoning and toss with roasted pecans. Try making this snack for tailgating, Mardi Gras, or as an unexpected party hors d’oeuvre. The salty, briny, spicy flavor of the crunchy pecans makes a surprisingly addictive drinking snack.
Special equipment: You’ll need a very clean coffee or spice grinder for this recipe.
What to buy: Dried shrimp are tiny shrimp that are boiled, salted, and then dried in the sun to add a salty, fishy flavor to many dishes. Look for them in Asian markets or online. Be sure to get brightly colored shrimp, buy them in small quantities to ensure freshness, and store them in the refrigerator.
Creole seasoning is generally a mix of salt, paprika, cayenne pepper, ground black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, dried oregano, and dried thyme, but it can vary from brand to brand. Because most brands contain salt, be sure to taste the seasoning mix before adding any additional salt or seasoning to the pecans. We like Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning for this recipe.
1Heat the oven to 300°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Arrange the shrimp in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 5 minutes. Sprinkle the zest over the shrimp and continue baking until the zest is dry to the touch, about 5 minutes more. Remove the baking sheet to a wire rack and let the shrimp cool completely, about 10 minutes.
2Transfer the shrimp and zest to a coffee or spice grinder and grind until a fine powder forms. (Reserve the baking sheet—you don’t need to wash it.) Transfer the powder to a small bowl, add the Creole seasoning, and stir to combine; set aside.
3Increase the oven temperature to 400°F and keep the rack in the middle.
4Place the nuts and oil in a large bowl and stir until the nuts are evenly coated. Transfer to the reserved baking sheet and spread the nuts into an even layer. (Reserve the bowl—no need to wash.) Roast, stirring halfway through, until the nuts are browned and toasted, about 10 to 15 minutes total.
5Immediately transfer the nuts to the reserved bowl. (Reserve the baking sheet again—no need to wash.) Add the Creole-shrimp powder and stir to evenly coat the nuts.
6Return the coated nuts to the reserved baking sheet and spread into an even layer. Let cool completely, about 30 minutes. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.