I have to say, I love a good etouffee.
A crazy popular Cajun dish, etouffee has been around for at least 70 years. It’s traditionally made with crawfish, but I like mine with shrimp. The word etouffee is French, and literally means “suffocated,” as in, that shrimp got suffocated in a big vat of flavor. The dish is chock full of veggies in a tomato-based sauce and crawfish smothered in. It’s sort of like a seafood stew. The tomato sauce is a contended addition to the stew: it’s said that real Cajun etouffee doesn’t include the stuff, and that the inclusion of tomatoes is the Creole way of cooking, but most dishes today use tomato.
So where did etouffee come from? There’s so many etouffee recipes around, but the original recipe can be traced back to Breaux Bridges, Louisiana, aka The Crawfish Capital of the world. According to history, etouffee originated in the Hebert Hotel in the early ‘20s It’s said that Mrs. Hebert created the fish using crawfish tails and fat, as well as onions and paper. The recipe got let out of the bag, and the RendezVous Café started serving up that crawfish stew. And while the first etouffee was made with a thinner sauce, as the time went on, the sauce got thicker.
The recipe then moved to New Orleans, but wasn’t popular until a few years after its introduction. Even Bourbon Street didn’t have crawfish on the menu until a few decades ago. Why the big city was so late to the game, I don’t know. Etouffee now rules the city every crawfish season.
Cooking Louisiana etouffee takes time, but, I swear it’s all worth it. That buttery flavor, the seafood, that touch of cayenne, and all of it served on top of white rice: a Cajun etouffee is a masterpiece.
How do you make your etouffee? Creole style or Cajun? Cream? Tell me!!
Classic Shrimp Etouffee
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 4 tablespoons flour
- 1 pound shrimp shelled and deveined
- 1/2 lemon sliced
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup onion diced
- 1/2 cup celery diced
- 1/2 cup bell pepper diced
- 4 cloves garlic chopped
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme chopped
- 1 14 ounce can diced tomato
- 1 tablespoon Creole or Cajun seasoning your favorite blend and adjust to your tastes
- hot sauce to taste
- sea salt to taste
- 1/4 cup green onions sliced for garnish
- tablespoon Italian parsley chopped for garnish
- Add the shrimp shells and scraps of onion and celery to a small sauce pot with a little olive oil to saute and cook for a few minutes
- then add the sliced lemon and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes
- Strain the solids from the broth and set aside.
- Melt the butter in a large sauce pan over medium heat, cook until it starts to brown sprinkle in the flour while mixing and simmer until it turns a dark brown, about 10-15 minutes.
- Add the onion, celery and peppers to the roux and cook until tender, about 8-10 minutes.
- Add the garlic and thyme and cook for a minute.
- Whisk in the broth
- add the tomatoes and seasoning reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Season with hot sauce and sea salt to taste.
- mix some of your seasoning (or paprika if you don’t want heat) and chopped parsely with your towel dried shrimp
- get a saute pan hot , add a little oil to the pan and add the shrimp
- Saute the shrimp quickly and cook until just done so they stay moist and tender. You want to get color into the shrimp so its okay if they seasoning burns a little.
- Place white rice in center of bowl, add Etouffee around rice, place cooked shrimp on top
- Garnish with parsley and green onions