Fricassee is a cross between a quick sauté and long stewing. The most common fricassee you might have heard of is the classic French chicken fricassee. As the French colonized the Caribbean and parts of what is now the American South, such as New Orleans, the fricassee method was adapted to suit local ingredients. Here, shrimp takes the place of chicken for a dish that’s a bit lighter and comes together more quickly. This particular recipe is inspired by a dish my friend Nina Compton served us for dinner one night at her New Orleans restaurant Compère Lapin, where the menu draws on culinary influences from her native Saint Lucia. Seafood with some sweetness to it, whether shrimp, crab, or lobster, pairs beautifully with corn. And corn, in turn, plays beautifully with summer squash when both are in season. So my adaptation of Nina’s shrimp fricassee becomes a celebration of peak summer produce.
You’ll see that the recipe calls for habanero pepper. Although habaneros can be extremely hot, they add a beautiful floral note to the finished dish. (If you were to substitute a different pepper, you’d lose that element.) Depending on your preference for heat, you may want to remove some or all of the habanero’s seeds to temper the fire. Be sure to wash your hands, knife, and cutting board after handling the habanero.
This is a weeknight-friendly supper paired with simple steamed rice or grits. —Excerpted from I Am From Here: Stories and Recipes from a Southern Chef by Vishwesh Bhatt.