Even though I grew up in New Jersey and my mother is from New England, I still think Louisiana has the best food in America.
Every time I cook Cajun or Creole I'm in awe of the balance and strength in the cooking there; it's one of the few places in the United States with a long-standing cuisine all its own.
This dish, étouffée, is one of that cuisine's crown jewels.
What Is Étouffée?
Étouffée basically means "smothered," and it is a common cooking technique in the South; a fricassee is the same deal. You make a flavorful sauce and cook a meat or fish in it, not so long as a braise or stew, and not so short as a sauté.
Shrimp étouffée brings together all of the hallmarks of Louisiana cooking: Seafood (help our own shrimpers by making sure you use Gulf shrimp for your etouffee), a flour-and-oil roux, the "Holy Trinity" of onion, celery and green pepper, traditional Cajun seasoning and hot sauce.
The Étouffée Dispute
Debates rage over whether étouffée ought to have a roux in it, whether you can use more than one seafood (wouldn't that be a gumbo, then?), and whether to use tomato or not. We went with a roux, one seafood, Tabasco, and no tomato. You can alter this recipe to suit your own preferences.
You'll note the long prep time in this recipe—that is mostly for peeling the shrimp shells for the stock and then for simmering that stock. If you use canned or pre-made stock, your prep time will go down to about 20 minutes.
Want More Great Louisiana Recipes?
- Shrimp Gumbo with Andouille Sausage
- Oyster Stew
- Slow Cooker Jambalaya
- Bread Pudding
- Chicken Gumbo with Andouille Sausage
Watch How To Make Tasty Shrimp Étouffée
You can use shrimp, crawfish, or crab for this recipe interchangeably.
For the optional shrimp stock
Shells from 2 pounds of shrimp
1/2 large onion, chopped
Top and bottom from 1 green pepper
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 celery rib, chopped
5 bay leaves
For the étouffée
1/4 cup vegetable oil or lard
1/4 heaping cup flour
1 large rib celery, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 to 2 jalapeño peppers, chopped
1/2 large onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 pint shrimp stock, clam juice, or fish stock
1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
2 pounds shrimp, peeled (save the shells for shrimp stock)
3 green onions, chopped
Hot sauce, such as Crystal or Tabasco, to taste
Make the optional shrimp stock:
If you don't already have prepared stock, pour 2 quarts of water into a pot and add all the shrimp stock ingredients. Bring to a boil, drop the heat down and simmer the stock gently for 45 minutes. Strain through a fine-meshed sieve into another pot set over low heat.
You will only need about 2 cups of stock for this recipe. Use the leftover stock for soup, risotto, etc. It will last in the fridge for a week or frozen for up to three months.
Make the roux:
Heat the vegetable oil or lard in a heavy pot over medium heat for 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the flour, making sure there are no clumps. Let this cook, stirring often, until it turns a very brown, about 10 minutes or so.
Add the vegetables:
Add the celery, green pepper, jalapeño and onion, mix well and cook over medium heat for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook another 2 minutes.
Slowly add the shrimp stock, then the seasonings and the shrimp:
Measure out 2 cups of the shrimp stock and slowly add it a little at a time, stirring constantly so it incorporates. The roux will absorb the stock and seize up at first, then it will loosen. Add additional stock as needed to make a sauce about the thickness of syrup.
Add the Cajun seasoning, celery seed and paprika and mix well. Add salt to taste, then mix in the shrimp. Cover the pot, turn the heat to its lowest setting and cook for 10 minutes.
Finish and serve:
Add the green onions and hot sauce to taste. Serve over white rice with a cold beer or lemonade.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 4 to 6|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 13g||16%|
|Saturated Fat 2g||8%|
|Total Carbohydrate 12g||4%|
|Dietary Fiber 2g||6%|
|Total Sugars 2g|
|Vitamin C 33mg||166%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|