When we say “Criollo,” we mean Creole style but not in the sense of Louisiana Creole cuisine. In Puerto Rico it means “coming from the country” or native Caribbean cooking. And though it is spicy in its own way it is not as fiery as Bayou-style cooking. Which leads us to today’s entrée: Camarones Al Criollo or Shrimp Creole Style. In this recipe, the shrimp itself is easy to cook, it’s the preparation that takes up most of the cooking time, it’s well worth it, believe me.

Back on the Island, the usual accompaniment to this dish is rice. But you can use whatever grain you desire, or even pasta. On this occasion we served the shrimp over pearl couscous, also known as Israeli couscous.  Have fun with this one.

Note that, apart from the typical Nuyorican ingredients, we also used chopped leeks. If you can’t locate leeks, you can use other vegetables such as broccoli, spinach  or okra.

(Shrimp Creole Style)


1½ pound medium-sized shrimp
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium-sized onion, peeled and chopped
½ cup coarsely chopped leeks
1 sweet green pepper (pimento), cored, seeded and chopped
2 clove garlic, peeled and chopped
1 (28.2 oz.) can diced tomatoes
3 sprigs fresh chopped  thyme or ½ teaspoon dried
½ teaspoon fresh oregano leaves or ¼ teaspoon dried
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Juice of 1 lemon


  1. Shell and devein the shrimp. Rinse, pat dry with paper towels and set aside.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet or saucepan. Add onion and stir- fry until wilted and translucent.
  3.  Add leeks, green pepper and garlic. Cook briefly, stirring. You want the vegetables to be crisp but not overcooked.
  4.  Stir in tomatoes, thyme, oregano, bay leaf, lemon rind, salt and pepper, Simmer for 10 minutes, uncovered, stirring often.
  5.  Add shrimp, mix well, cover and cook for 3-4 minutes. Remove bay leaf. Add parsley and lemon juice and blend well.  Serve over couscous or favorite grain.
    Yield: 4-6 servings.