Shrimp Étouffée – A New Orleans Classic

Best Ever Étouffée - A New Orleans Classic Dish

Creole food is not something that’s commonly available in Sydney which is a shame as the food from that region is really delicious. So when I get a craving for Cajun food I whip up one of my favourites – Étouffée.  Étouffée is basically a thick stew that is made with a roux which is cooked until golden brown to ensure that it’s full of flavour and colour. It’s extremely important to cook your butter and flour until it’s a deep deep brown, otherwise the gravy will be insipid.  By the way this is also a great method to use when you want to make a gravy but your pan drippings are too meagre to give a full-bodied colour to your sauce. The shellfish traditionally used in Étouffée is crawfish but as crawfish can be hard to come by shrimp is more commonly used, nice big ones if possible. Étouffée is usually served with lots of rice to mop up the delicious gravy and the classic presentation is to plate a nice circular mound of rice in the centre of a plate (use a small bowl to shape the rice) and then pour the shrimps and gravy around the rice – it looks as good as it tastes!

Ingredients – Serves 4

2 tablespoons oil
4-5 whole shrimp per person, peeled and deveined (reserve the shells and heads)
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon tomato paste
2 cups best quality chicken stock
1 cup water
60g butter
⅓ cup flour
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
A large pinch of freshly ground black pepper
1 large onion, finely diced
1 cup celery, finely diced
1 green capsicum, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 spring onions, sliced
¼ cup chopped parsley
4 cups cooked white rice

Method

Heat the oil in a saucepan over high heat, add the shrimp shells and heads, along with the bay leaves and tomato paste. Cook, pressing down hard on the shells with a potato masher or the back of a spoon (this releases all their lovely shellfish flavour), until the shrimp shells are seared and turned red, and the heads are soft. Add the chicken stock and water, and simmer for 15 minutes.  Strain the stock through a sieve, you should have roughly 2 cups of shellfish stock. Set aside.

Étouffée Stock Étouffée Roux 

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat, and gradually whisk in the flour making sure there are no lumps. Continue to cook, whisking the roux over medium low heat until it turns a deep brown colour. This can take up to 10 minutes depending on your heat but make sure you whisk constantly to avoid the roux burning and turning bitter. As the roux cooks it will smell lovely and toasted – getting a nice deep colour on the roux is the most essential step in the recipe.

Add the thyme, oregano, paprika, cayenne, salt, and pepper to the roux. Mix well to combine all of the spices. Add the onion, celery, capsicum, and garlic to the pan and stir and cook for a few minutes until the onions have started to softened a little. Again moderate your heat so as the roux doesn’t burn.

How to Make Étouffée  Shrimp Étouffée

Add the stock, stirring the whole time. Bring to a simmer and cook over low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally . Increase the heat and add the peeled shrimp and spring onions. Stir everything together until the shrimp is just cooked and changed colour. To serve, place some rice in the middle of each plate and pour the étouffée around the rice,  garnish with the chopped parsley.

Cajun Classic Recipe for Shrimp Étouffée

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