I have always loved eating Creole or Cajun food and will order it every chance I get.
There is a depth of flavor, unique to that cuisine, that I can’t compare to anything I have ever eaten…including my beloved Cuban fare. One of my favorite dishes is Shrimp or Crawfish Étouffée. “Étouffée” is a Cajun dish typically served with shellfish or chicken over rice and is similar to gumbo. (In french the word “étouffée” means “smothered”.) When I decided to try making it at home, I immediately went to a tiny 64-page cookbook that I purchased years ago on my first trip to New Orleans. I found a recipe for Crawfish Étouffée that looked pretty good. Never happy to settle on one recipe, I went to the internet looking for some other options. My research led me to a dilemma…To roux or not to roux?? The recipe in my Louisiana cookbook, did not call for a roux; it was thickened by the addition of cornstarch at the end of the cooking period. However, the other recipes I came across started with the making of a roux. That settled it, I was going to do this right…roux, it is! Then the question became, “what color should the roux be, (i.e, peanut butter, caramel, dark brown-red) to give the most authentic flavor to my étouffée”? Should I use butter or vegetable oil as my base? Well, I finally settled on a “caramel” colored roux with a butter base. Also, all the recipes I looked at used different liquid elements…chicken broth, clam juice, shrimp stock (made from scratch using shrimp heads), etc. I took a chance and bought ready-made seafood stock (found in the soup isle of the grocery store) and picked a winner. It worked great! When it was all said and done, I had mixed and matched the components of two different recipes, to arrive at my interpretation of “Shrimp Étouffée”. I have made it twice so far, and the results were incredible both times.
( Spicy Dish!)
- 6 T. butter
- ½ c. all-purpose flour
- 1 c. yellow onion, chopped
- ¾ c. green bell pepper, chopped
- 1 c. celery, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1 t. black pepper
- ½ tsp. cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp. Cajun seasoning
- ½ c. green onions plus extra for garnish, chopped
- ½ c. fresh parsley, chopped
- 3 c. seafood stock
- 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp. salt
- 2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled, deveined and with tail removed
- Cooked white rice, for serving
In a large Dutch oven melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and stir to make a roux. Stir the roux continuously and cook until the color of caramel, 10-15 minutes, being careful not to burn. Add the onions, green pepper, celery and garlic to the roux and cook, stirring often, until vegetables are limp. Add the black pepper, cayenne pepper, Cajun seasoning, ½ cup of green onions, fresh parsley, seafood stock, diced tomatoes, bay leaf and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add shrimp and stir. It should take 3-5 minutes for the shrimp to cook. DON’T OVER COOK! Serve over cooked white rice and garnish with chopped green onions. Serves 5-6.