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Étouffée Shopping Tips
Southern food is a mixture of Native American, Creole, and European influences. Staples of this comfort food include corn (in all its forms), honey, chicken, pork, and seafood, all easily found at any neighborhood grocery store.
Étouffée Cooking Tips
On the heavier side, be sure to eat lots of greens with your comfort food.
Étouffée is a crayfish (crawfish) or shrimp stew typical of the city of New Orleans, Louisiana. The étouffée name comes from the French, it is a culinary term indicating slow cooking in a pot or Dutch oven with a lid.
In New Orleans, the name can be written with or without accent (etouffee). This crawfish etouffee or shrimp etouffee is directly associated with Cajun and Creole cuisines. This crustacean stew is traditionally accompanied by white rice just like other dishes emblematic of the region gumbo or jambalaya. This cooking technique is also found throughout Mississippi, Alabama, Florida and eastern Texas. The French name of the dish gradually disappears when heading north in favor of the word smothering.
How to make étouffée
The preparation of the stew begins with the Holy Trinity, a real marker of New Orleans cuisine. Like the Italian or Spanish sofrito, the holy trinity is a mixture of finely chopped very aromatic vegetables serving as a basis for making most of the stews.
If the sofrito prepared in Europe is generally made of celery stalks, onions and carrots, in New Orleans the carrot is replaced by bell pepper which also brings a sweet touch to the dish.
However depending on the regions of Louisiana, this Holy Trinity may vary and may or may not contain garlic, carrots, green onions rather than white, and red bell peppers rather than green. This mixture is sweated with butter or oil and can be later topped with garlic and herbs.
In the case of the étouffée, a Cajun spice blend is added. It consists of dried herbs such as thyme and oregano, garlic and onion powder, paprika , black pepper, mustard, pepper and cumin.
The tails of crayfish or shrimp are then added. In the case of fresh crayfish, it will be necessary to remove the casing (which gives a bitter taste to the crayfish if it is not removed). The heads and shells of crayfish and shrimp can be used to prepare broth for later.
Once everything is sautéed, you may add the sieved flour. To be more digestible, this flour can be toasted in the oven or in a pan beforehand. Adding the flour helps bind the stew. The molecules of the flour having the property of swelling in contact with a hot liquid, this will give a better density to the sauce.
The hot broth is then added to prevent clumping. The cooking continues until thickening and optimal cooking of all elements. Simply season the stew with salt and pepper and serve with a white rice and some finely chopped parsley.
What is the origin of étouffée?
The recipe may date back to the 1920s, and is very popular with Cajuns living in the Bayou (Louisiana marsh area). In the 1950s, the recipe gradually evolved into certain Breaux Bridge restaurants and then in 1983, a waiter at the famous Galatoire’s restaurant on Bourbon Street had his boss taste the dish, and it was an instant hit.
Today the étouffée is very popular with New Orleans residents and tourists and is on the menu of most restaurants. The name of the dish suggests a French influence as often in the New Orleans cuisine. In France, there are numerous preparations of stewed crayfish or gambas. They are usually garnished with tomatoes and do not contain spices except a little allspice.
What are the variants of étouffée?
If the stew is almost always prepared with shrimp or crayfish, there are other versions based on frog legs or chicken. If crustaceans are often appreciated cooked in court-bouillon and tasted cold with mayonnaise, they are excellent in a stew too.
The combination of shrimps, rice and spices is also reminiscent of the famous Spanish paella. Spanish cuisine is also very influential in Louisiana, as this region has many immigrants from islands off the east coast of the United States of America who were former Spanish colonies.
This New Orleans cuisine has become, over successive waves of immigration, a real melting pot of French, Spanish, African, Cajun, Creole and Anglo-Saxon influences.
This dish can also be prepared by starting with a roux, a mixture of butter and flour that will be cooked until it takes on an amber hue. It is in this roux that the vegetables and crawfish tails will be cooked. This method will bring the same result, that is to say a dense and unctuous sauce.
The technique of the roux is very used in the New Orleans kitchens. Roux is available pre-made in boxes and different shades, from white to black through all shades of blond, amber and red. The longer the flour is cooked, the darker the blond roux (used for the famous bechamel sauce) will become dark and the stronger its taste will be. In Louisiana, gourmets appreciate the very brown and black roux. The color of a roux affects the final color of a dish.
Best Étouffée Recipes - Recipes
In a 6 quart pot, melt butter over low heat. Gradually add the flour, stirring constantly. Cook over low heat until a medium brown roux is formed (about 15 to 20 minutes).
Quickly add the onion, green pepper, celery and garlic and continue to cook, stirring frequently until vegetables are glazed and tender (about 20 minutes).
Add the shrimp, salt, black pepper, cayenne, lemon juice, scallions and parsley - mix well.
Add 1 cup of cold water and bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer until the shrimp are tender and have changed color, about 8 to 10 minutes.
Stir frequently at this point.
Shortly before serving, heat the etouffée slowly over a low flame and gradually add 1 to 2 cups hot water to provide the gravy. Serve over boiled rice.
Note: This makes a great one dish meal. You can cook etouffée in advance, refrigerate it and reheat it over a period of a few days. For best results, always cook fresh rice when you reheat.
Shrimp Etouffee – A Louisiana Classic
Louisiana’s cuisine like its history is steeped in tradition. Shrimp Etouffee’s origin can be traced to the Crawfish Capital of the World, Breaux Bridges, Louisiana where it was first served by Mrs. Hebert and her daughters in the Hebert Hotel in early 1920s. Even after 10 decades, it is still an extremely popular and well-loved dish.
I remember, first trying out the etouffee from a food truck which was parked outside our hotel, when I first arrived in New Orleans. That etouffee was the best I ever had.
Etouffee comes from a word in French which literally means ‘smothered’ or ‘suffocated’. But the dish is anything but ‘suffocating’. It is a delicious Cajun dish which is traditionally made with crawfish but has variations of crab or shrimp. Here ‘smothered’ refers to a cooking style, where seafood is smothered in a tomato based sauce made with the roux (sauce made from butter & flour) and ‘Holy Trinity’ or a mélange of onions, bell peppers and celery. It is a stew-like extremely flavorful dish which is served with rice. This is my version of the traditional etouffee made with shrimp.
Ingredients: You will need,
Holy trinity – Red bell pepper – 1 diced into small cubes
Celery -3 stalks – diced finely
Onion – 1 large diced finely.
All purpose flour – 2 tbsp.
For the Seasoning, you will need:
Etouffee seasoning – 1 tbsp.
Garnish – Cilantro & celery leaves.
Ingredients: Jumbo Shrimps,The Holy Trinity – Celery, Bell pepper & onions.
The Seasoning – Etouffee seasoning & Cajun Seasoning -all easily available in super markets.
Method: In a deep bottomed sauce pan, melt the butter and add to it 2 tbsp of all purpose flour. Keep whisking the two so that no granules form.
This is called the Roux and this is the primary base for the etouffee.
Keep whisking or stirring the Roux on medium low heat till it turns a light chocolate brown color.
Now, increase the heat to medium and add to the sauce pan the Holy trinity of Cajun cooking- onions, bell peppers and celery. Cook stirring occasionally till the vegetables are crisp tender about 3 minutes.
Next add the grated garlic and cook for another 1 minute.
Gradually add in the seafood stock until smooth.
Stir in etouffee seasoning.
And finally cajun seasoning.
Now, add the tomatoes and reduce heat to low and simmer until slightly thick.
Meanwhile in a separate pan, season the jumbo shrimps with salt and paprika and fry gently for 2 minutes.
Add the prawns to the etouffee.
Cover and cook till the prawns are fully cooked and the sauce has thickened,
Your shrimp etouffee is now done. Serve it in a plate along with steaming white rice.
ABOUT CRAWFISH ETOUFFEE [EH-TOO-FEH]
Crawfish Etouffee is a Cajun/Creole dish born out of Louisiana, a state known (and adored) for their abundance of crawfish. A New Orleans-style rendition boasts a smooth, buttery texture that lies somewhere between a stew and a bisque. It comes brimming with crawfish tails and is always served with a heaping hill of fluffy white rice.
This dish can be spicy, but most of the time, it’s mild enough for even small children to enjoy. Its flavor is rich and distinctly Creole thanks to the holy trinity of vegetables, Creole seasonings, Worcestershire and hot sauce.
Best-Ever Shrimp Étouffée
This popular dish, with Cajun and Creole roots, is similar to gumbo, and is just as delicious. Its tasty sauce begins with a blonde roux, and then gets a flavor boost from Cajun’s Santísima Trinidad (which is the celery, onion and pepper). Read on for tips on how to make the best Étouffée ever.
2 tablespoons of butter
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 green onions, thinly sliced, and more for garnish.
2 teaspoons of freshly cut thyme.
1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
Freshly ground black pepper
4 c. shrimp or seafood broth
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 lbs. shrimp, shelled and deveined
White rice, to be served
In a medium or large Dutch oven over medium heat, combine the butter and oil. When the butter melts and foams, add the flour and whisk until smooth. Cook, stirring frequently, until the roux is golden brown, 5 to 6 minutes.
Add the onion, pepper and celery and cook, stirring frequently, until soft, 4 to 5 minutes. Add garlic, green onions and thyme and cook until fragrant, 1 minute more.
Add Cajun seasoning and paprika and season with salt and pepper. Add the broth 1 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition. Bring to a boil over low heat and add bay leaf. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce is reduced by 1/3 and vegetables are tender, 10 to 12 minutes
Add the shrimp and simmer until opaque and fully cooked, 4-6 minutes. Remove the bay leaf.
Season with salt and pepper if necessary, and spoon over the rice. Garnish with green onions before serving.
Shrimp Etouffée consists of a roux, vegetables, broth, shrimp, and seasoning.
The roux is used to thicken the dish. It is made up of unsalted butter and all-purpose flour.
It’s almost impossible to make a Louisiana staple without the Cajun holy trinity of veggie combinations — diced onion, bell pepper, and celery. In addition to this, you’ll also need fresh garlic and tomatoes on hand.
The base of the sauce is the roux, but broth makes up the body of it. You can use either seafood or chicken broth, but make sure whichever one you use is a low-sodium rendition. Tomato paste and Worcestershire add a great deal of flavor to the sauce, as well as Kosher salt, Creole seasoning mix (e.g. Tony Chachere’s), black pepper, and a bay leaf. Last, but not least, don’t forget the hot sauce!
The size of the shrimp isn’t make-or-break for this recipe, although one should note that giant prawns will take longer to cook and are not necessarily “bite-sized.” Medium-sized or large shrimp are really best for this dish.
We prefer to use wild-caught, frozen shrimp that comes peeled and deveined. Not having to peel and devein a pound of shrimp speeds along the process of making Shrimp Etouffée quite a bit. You can typically find frozen shrimp near the fresh seafood or in the freezer section. Be sure it is thawed before adding to the pot.
Difference Between Shrimp Etouffee and Shrimp Creole
Aside from the fact that both of these southern dishes include shrimp and rice, etouffee and creole have little else in common.
Shrimp creole is, as the name implies, a dish of Creole cuisine. It includes a tomato-based sauce with bell peppers, onions, and celery. The flavor of shrimp creole is sweeter than shrimp etouffee, and the consistency of the sauce is much thinner as well.
Shrimp etouffee is a Cajun dish, so there are absolutely no tomatoes in it whatsoever. The French word etouffee literally means “smothered” which is exactly how the shrimp is served.
Rather than a coating of thin tomato sauce, the shrimp is covered with a rich, thick, dark and spicy gravy. Etouffee is a hearty meal that will stick to your ribs in the best possible way!
The Art of Making a Dark Roux for Etouffee
If you’re new to making sauces and gravies, you may not be familiar with the French word, roux (pronounced roo, as in kangaroo).
Roux is a mixture of equal parts fat and flour, and it’s used for thickening liquids, primarily in soup, sauces, and stews. There are several colors of roux, ranging from the lightest white to blond, tan, dark brown, and black. The longer the fat and flour cook together, the darker the color of the roux becomes, and the less thickening power the roux has.
The theory and technique for how to make a roux are simple the trick is learning how to make dark roux without burning it. The trick lies in controlling the temperature of the pan.
For this shrimp etouffee recipe, you need a brown (dark) roux, which takes approximately 10 minutes to cook.
Shrimp Etouffee Recipe Video
To see the process of making this recipe from start to finish, watch the video in the recipe card at the bottom of this post!
Tips for Making the Roux
- Start with a cold pan. Place the butter into a cold saute pan and then turn the heat on to medium.
- Don’t add the flour until the butter has melted completely. If you add the flour to the pan before the butter has melted, it will clump rather than blend together. As you combine the two, use a whisk to help break down any clumps of flour.
- Monitor the heat. After adding the flour, the temperature of the pan will drop slightly this is to be expected. Do not increase the burner heat keep it at medium. The roux will continue to cook, even at the lower temperature.
- Stir occasionally. To prevent the roux from burning in the pan, use a whisk to stir it occasionally as it cooks. Every couple of minutes is fine just keep it moving.
Versions of Etouffee
Traditionally, this Cajun dish is made with Louisiana crawfish. Because not everyone has access to fresh crawfish, the recipe has been adapted over the years. Nowadays, you can find shrimp etouffee pretty regularly in almost any New Orleans restaurant, as well as versions made with andouille sausage and even chicken.
Feel free to use whatever protein you enjoy and have access to. You can even use frozen shrimp just be sure to allow it to thaw first, and use paper toweling to pat it dry before you start cooking with it. Otherwise, you won’t be able to form a nice sear on the shrimp.
This meal is best served over a bed of white or brown rice. Serving it over southern red beans and rice is another tasty option.
It’s great with cornbread muffins (I actually prefer my recipe for spicy Mexican cornbread), and either a crisp garden salad or some pan fried okra and/or southern style collard greens.
Note: To make roux, use oil instead of butter, because butter burns.
Make the roux, mix oil and flour in a large heavy saucepan over low heat. Whisk flour into the oil to form a paste. Continue cooking over low heat and whisk continuously, until the mixture turns a caramel color and gives off a nutty aroma, about 15 to 20 minutes. To the roux, add the onion, green pepper, celery, and garlic and cook over low heat about 5 minutes, until the vegetables are limp. Add the black pepper, white pepper, cayenne pepper, Cajun seasoning, green onions, parsley, and hot sauce to taste. Add 1 can clam juice and the tomatoes with their juice, stir to blend. Add the salt, starting with 1 teaspoon then add more if needed.
Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Add shrimp and stir. It will take about 3 minutes for shrimp to cook, don’t overcook. Remove from heat. Add the butter and stir the heat from the dish will melt the butter. Transfer the etouffee to a tureen, serving bowl, or if you prefer, over rice. Garnish with the green onions.
- 1 lb shrimp, 31-40 count, peeled, deveined & seasoned to taste with Slap Ya Mama Original Blend Cajun Seasoning (save shrimp shells to make shrimp stock)
- 2 tsp dry thyme
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 2 tsp dry basil
- 6 oz salted butter
- 5 Tbsp flour
- 4 ribs celery, diced
- ½ cup red onion, diced
- ½ cup red bell pepper, diced
- ½ cup green bell pepper, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- ¼ cup tomato puree or paste
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice
- 2 Tbsp Slap Ya Mama Original Blend Cajun Seasoning
- 1 quart shrimp stock (or you can use chicken broth)
- 3 Tbsp cooking oil
- 4 Tbsp fresh parsley, minced
- 4 cups rice, cook according to directions on package
- 3 stalks of green onions, chopped
- 1 Tbsp Slap Ya Mama Cajun Pepper Sauce, to taste
- For the shrimp stock. Using a medium sized pot on medium heat add the shells of the peeled shrimp and set shrimp aside for later.
- Add about 2 ½ quarts water, thyme, chili powder, basil and any leftover scraps from the prepping of your veggies.
- Cook uncovered until reduced by half. Remove from heat and set shrimp stock aside.
- In a large, heavy skillet or pot over medium-low heat, melt butter. Add flour and constantly stir for 2 to 3 minutes, making a light roux.
- Add celery, onions, red and green bell peppers and garlic. Sauté on medium-low heat for 3 minutes.
- Add tomato puree or paste and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
- Add ½ cup of shrimp stock to roux mixture, mix well to form a paste. Add lemon juice, Slap Ya Mama Original Blend Cajun Seasoning and remaining shrimp stock make sure to leave the shrimp peelings out.
- Stir well and cook étouffée sauce uncovered over medium heat for about 15 minutes.
In a medium sized skillet heat cooking oil over medium-high heat until hot.
- Add shrimp and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes or until shrimp begin to turn slightly pink.
- Deglaze skillet with a little water and scrape shrimp and juices into étouffée sauce. Cover and let simmer for 15 minutes.
- Stir in parsley, cover and remove from heat. Serve with rice and top with green onions and Slap Ya Mama Cajun Pepper Sauce to taste.
NOTE: If étouffée sauce is too thick, thin it out with a little chicken broth or water. If it’s too thin, allow it to continue cooking until desired thickness is reach. It should have the consistency of a meat sauce.
Recipe and photo courtesy of Jack Walker and Chef Ace Champion at Slap Ya Mama
Acadia Cooks: Crawfish Étouffée
A classic dish in Cajun culture, crawfish étouffée is the perfect way to wind down crawfish season or entertain a large group without getting the boiling equipment out. And, as long as you have the time to let it cook properly, it’s a fairly easy dish that’s sure to impress.
At Acadia Crawfish, we love this classic crawfish étouffée recipe for how quickly it all comes together. With a little bit of love (and a Cajun’s best friend: The Cajun Trinity), you’ll have an étouffée that’ll give you a nod of approval from even the most old-school grandmére. It’s a dish that’s served at a lot of family gatherings in South Louisiana, and typically makes an appearance towards the end of the season or after a boil, as it’s a great way to use up any leftover crawfish. If you don’t have leftovers, don’t worry our packages of tails are fully seasoned and packed with flavor that perfectly complement the rest of the ingredients.