Shrimp Etouffee

Mardi GrasComfort FoodCreoleFish and Seafood

Shrimp Etouffee! This classic Louisiana stew is made with shrimp, the Holy Trinity of onion, celery, and green pepper, and a simple roux to thicken it up. Serve it over rice for a true Cajun meal!

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

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 Etouffee?

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.

Shrimp Etouffee

The Etouffee Dispute

Debates rage over whether etouffee 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.

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Updated March 5, 2019 : We spiffed up this post to make it sparkle! No change to the original recipe.

Shrimp Etouffee Recipe

  • Prep time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
  • Cook time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4 to 6

You can use shrimp, crawfish, or crab for this recipe interchangeably.

Ingredients

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 stalk, chopped
  • 5 bay leaves

Étouffée

  • 2 pounds shrimp, shell on (remove shells for use in the shrimp stock, if not making your own stock, you can get shrimp already shelled)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil or lard
  • Heaping 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 to 2 jalapeno peppers, chopped
  • 1 large celery stalk, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 pint shrimp stock (see above), or clam juice or pre-made fish or shellfish stock
  • 1 Tbsp Cajun seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1 Tbsp sweet paprika
  • Salt
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • Hot sauce (Crystal or Tabasco) to taste

Method

1 Make the shrimp 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.

2 Make the roux: To make the etouffee, start by making a 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; this should take about 10 minutes or so.

3 Add the vegetables: Add the celery, green pepper, jalapeño and onion, mix well and cook this over medium heat for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook another 2 minutes.

4 Slowly add 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.

5 Add the green onions and hot sauce to taste. Serve over white rice with a cold beer or lemonade.

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Shrimp and Lobster Etouffee - from Lisa is Cooking

Hank Shaw

A former restaurant cook and journalist, Hank Shaw is the author of three wild game cookbooks as well as the James Beard Award-winning wild foods website Hunter Angler Gardener Cook. His latest cookbook is Buck, Buck, Moose, a guide to working with venison. He hunts, fishes, forages and cooks near Sacramento, CA.

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76 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Maggie

    This was EXCEPTIONAL! I didn’t have fish stock, so I substituted with chicken stock. I’m a good cook…..but this has to be one of the best tasting dish I have ever made. My partner and I couldn’t stop eating it…..and ate the whole pot! I have weekly family dinners on Wednesdays…..guess what I’m serving this week? :)

    xxxxxyyyyy

  2. Virginia

    Well, a true Southerner who’s family came from Natchez, Mississippi, I’ve never seen Etouffee made with jalapeño, so I didn’t add it, but I made it per instructions, sans the jalapeño, and it was good.

    xxxxxyyyyy

  3. Chef Scooter

    Wow. Easy to make. My clients loved the dinner

    xxxxxyyyyy

  4. eileen

    i can’t wait to try this! Looks simple and easy!

    xxxxxyyyyy

  5. Son of a shrimper.

    I’m from south Mississippi, I agree with @cajun as far as the name goes. It’s all good though. Not quite like mama used to make but she hated oregano. Spaghetti in our house was almost bbq! I really liked this recipe but I added more/hotter pepper-homegrown homeground habaneros along with what the recipe calls for. And I used royal reds for shrimp. Excellent!

    xxxxxyyyyy

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