2.10.15. Shrimp Étouffée
With Mardi Gras right around the corner (a week from today in fact!) I’ve had cajun food on the brain. In fact, in preparation for Fat Tuesday, a group of our friends who enjoy cooking got together for a big Mardi Gras themed feast, complete with hurricanes, jambalaya, muffaletta, red beans and rice, beignets, and king cake ice cream. You’d think after all that, I’d be over it. Think again. I still needed to get my étouffée fix.
If you’re not familiar with the gloriousness that is étouffée, fear not. Behind its complicated looking name (pronounced ay-too-fay), it’s nothing more than a deliciously thick, spicy seafood sauce served atop rice. In true cajun form, it starts with a mix of flour and oil, cooked down to into a beautiful toasty brown roux. Then we throw in the holy trinity of cajun cooking - celery, green bell pepper, and onion. Plus some garlic of course for good measure. Add some stock, and spices, throw in some shrimp, and cook it down until it thickens. That’s about it. You can see why I’ve been craving the stuff.
I learned how to make étouffée when I was in high school after my mum went on a trip to New Orleans and learned how to make it there. It soon became a regular dinner in our house, which was just fine by me because it’s so delicious. My mum also taught me to make a mean jambalaya, but we’ll save that for another time. We always ate our étouffée with cornbread twists and lots of Tabasco sauce. These days, I’m making some slightly fancier cornbread twists, and I’ve branched out to Crystal sauce, but the étouffée remains pretty much the same. I like it that way.
- 1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
- ¼ tsp hot sauce such as Tabasco or Crystal
- ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 2 Tbsp canola oil
- ¼ cup flour
- 3 celery ribs, chopped
- 1 green pepper, chopped
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 ½ cups shrimp or chicken stock
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tsp cajun seasoning (I love the one from Penzeys)
- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
- salt to taste
- white rice and additional hot sauce for serving
1. Cut shrimp into approximately ½” pieces and toss with the lemon juice, hot sauce, and black pepper in a bowl. Set aside to marinate while you make the sauce.
2. Heat the oil in a pan over medium high heat. Once hot, add the flour, and mix. Cook the flour/oil mixture (the roux), stirring constantly, until the mixture takes on a toasty aroma and darkens to the color of peanut butter, about 8-10 minutes. Be sure to stir constantly to prevent your roux from burning.
3. Once the roux has darkened sufficiently, add the chopped celery, green pepper, onion, and garlic, and stir to coat vegetables with the roux.
4. Add the stock, bay leaf, cajun seasoning, and cayenne pepper and stir to combine. Bring to a boil and continue to cook over medium heat until vegetables are tender and liquid has thickened into a sauce, about 10-15 minutes. Season to taste with additional salt if needed.
5. Add the shrimp and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until shrimp are cooked through, about 2-3 minutes. Serve étouffée atop white rice with a liberal amount of hot sauce.