Shrimp Étouffée

Etouffée means "smothered," as any fan of Cajun cooking knows, and Joshua Marks didn't skip any of the classic vegetables in the sauce that smothered his shrimp. To get the roux to a medium golden color and cook it properly, you need this volume of butter and flour. And it's true to the spirit of generations of generous, open-handed Cajun cooks, who aren't known for starting a dish with merely a tablespoon or two of butter!

Once the wine and stock have gone in, the sauce simmers until it's thick and smooth. At this point, your étouffée is pretty much ready, so don't add the shrimp until the rice is cooked and your guests are seated at the table. It doesn't take long to smother the shrimp once they go in.

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Ingredients

  • 1/2 Cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 Cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 Vidalia onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 Cup white wine
  • 4 Cups chicken stock
  • 1 Tablespoon Cajun seasoning
  • 1 Pound jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 3 1/4 Cups water
  • 2 Cups jasmine rice
  • Chopped cilantro, for garnish

Servings4

Calories Per Serving832

Folate equivalent (total)473µg100%

Riboflavin (B2)0.4mg25.1%


Shrimp Étouffée - Recipes

In a 6 quart pot, melt butter over low heat. Gradually add the flour, stirring constantly. Cook over low heat until a medium brown roux is formed (about 15 to 20 minutes).

Quickly add the onion, green pepper, celery and garlic and continue to cook, stirring frequently until vegetables are glazed and tender (about 20 minutes).

Add the shrimp, salt, black pepper, cayenne, lemon juice, scallions and parsley - mix well.

Add 1 cup of cold water and bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer until the shrimp are tender and have changed color, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Stir frequently at this point.

Shortly before serving, heat the etouffée slowly over a low flame and gradually add 1 to 2 cups hot water to provide the gravy. Serve over boiled rice.

Note: This makes a great one dish meal. You can cook etouffée in advance, refrigerate it and reheat it over a period of a few days. For best results, always cook fresh rice when you reheat.


WHAT IS ETOUFFEE?

The word “étouffée” comes from the French verb, “étouffer,” which translates to the English word “smothered.” Logically, the word now gives title to one of Louisiana’s signature dishes, and rightfully so.

Etouffée is best described as a thick, bisque-like stew made with vegetables (always featuring the Cajun holy trinity) and seafood, often crawfish, crab or shrimp. The protein is quite literally “smothered” in a rich, creamy, and seriously savory sauce, and served under a heaping pile of rice.

Just like almost every other dish that comes out of Louisiana, étouffée can be either creole or cajun in nature. The Shrimp Etouffée Recipe you’ll find here is very much a creole rendition.

CREOLE VS. CAJUN

Both Creole and Cajun cuisine is native to Louisiana, and there are plenty of similarities between the two but make the mistake of mislabeling a dish, and you will quickly (and fiercely) be called out.

Cajuns are defined as an ethnic group of French descent that was exiled from Canada and relocated to lower Louisiana in the late 1700s. Their is a rustic infusion of French and Southern cuisine. You’ll find lots of smoked meats and one-pot dishes in this genre of cooking.

The name “Creole,” on the other hand, applies to individuals born in New Orleans with French or Spanish descent. Creole cuisine is famous for rich sauces, has a heavy emphasis on seafood, and also uses a good deal of fresh tomatoes and herbs in their dishes. In fact, a large identifying factor between the two cuisines is the use of tomatoes.


Ingredients

For the Shrimp Stock:

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Reserved shells from 2 pounds large shrimp (see below)
  • 1 small onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, coarsely chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, coarsely chopped
  • 3 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth

For the Étouffée:

  • 1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter
  • 8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons thyme leaves, finely chopped
  • 3 dried bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons celery salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 celery ribs, thinly sliced
  • 2 pounds large shrimp, shelled and deveined, shells reserved
  • 2 tablespoons Crystal hot sauce, plus more for serving
  • 6 large scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • Salt
  • Steamed rice and lemon wedges, for serving

Instructions

Make the Shrimp Stock

In a large pot, heat the vegetable oil until shimmering. Add the shrimp shells and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until pink and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the onion, carrot and celery and cook until the vegetables have softened, about 3 minutes. Pour in the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes. Remove from the heat and let steep, covered, for 30 minutes longer. Strain the stock into a heatproof bowl through a fine sieve, pressing on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Wipe out the pot.

Prepare the Étouffée

In the same pot, melt the butter over moderately high heat until foaming. Add the garlic and onion and cook, stirring, until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the tomato paste, thyme, bay leaves, celery salt and 2 teaspoons of pepper and cook, stirring constantly, until thick and slightly darkened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the celery and cook for 2 minutes, until slightly softened.

Add the shrimp stock in 3 batches, stirring well after each addition. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to moderate and simmer until slightly reduced, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add the shrimp, the 2 tablespoons of hot sauce and three-fourths of the scallions and cook just until the shrimp are pink throughout, 3 to 5 minutes. Discard the bay leaves. Stir in the lemon juice and season with salt. Transfer to a bowl, sprinkle with the remaining scallions and serve with steamed rice, passing lemon wedges and hot sauce at the table.


Recipe Summary

  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 1/2 cups canned low-sodium chicken broth or homemade stock
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 1/2 pounds medium shrimp, shelled
  • 2 scallions including green tops, chopped
  • Boiled or steamed rice, for serving

In a large frying pan or Dutch oven, heat the oil over moderate heat until almost smoking. Add the flour and whisk until it's the color of peanut butter, about 3 minutes. Whisk in the broth and continue whisking until the sauce starts to thicken, about 2 minutes.

Stir in the bell pepper, celery, onions, bay leaf, salt, cayenne, black pepper, and thyme. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook over low heat until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes.

Add the shrimp and scallions and simmer until the shrimp are just done, about 3 minutes. Serve the étouffée over the rice.


Shrimp Etouffee or Crawfish Etouffee?

If you have crawfish available in your area, and it’s the right season, this recipe can absolutely be made with them. We wrote it as a shrimp recipe just because they’re available year round pretty much everywhere. Crawfish would lend a real air of authenticity to your etouffee, for sure.

For an even more genuine experience you can start your evening off with a classic Hurricane cocktail. They’re super easy and yummy!

For a more in depth look at authentic southern cuisine be sure to read Southern Food: Then & Now.


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  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup onion (chopped)
  • 6 green onions (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup bell pepper (red or green or combination, chopped)
  • 1/2 cup celery (chopped)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup parsley (chopped)
  • 1 small bay leaf
  • Tabasco sauce to taste
  • Salt to taste
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 3 pounds shrimp (peeled and deveined)
  • Garnish: one bunch scallions, sliced

The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

In a skillet over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Add the flour to the hot butter and stir to blend. Cook, stirring constantly until flour mixture is deep golden brown.

The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

Add the onions, green onions, bell pepper, and celery cook until tender, stirring frequently.

The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

Stir in the water, parsley, bay leaf, and Tabasco. Taste and add salt and pepper, as needed. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 15 to 20 minutes, to give the sauce a chance to thicken.

The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

Add the shrimp, and simmer an additional 5 to 6 minutes, or until shrimp are cooked. Serve over a mound of hot cooked rice and garnish with scallions if desired.


Best-Ever Shrimp Étouffée

This popular dish, with Cajun and Creole roots, is similar to gumbo &mdash and every bit as delicious. It's flavorful sauce starts with a blonde roux, then gets a boost of flavor from the Cajun holy trinity (that's celery, onion, and bell pepper). Read on for tips on making the best-ever Étouffée.

I can't find Cajun seasoning. What can I use instead?

You can make your own blend! Though you might not have all of these ingredients, but mix equal parts of as many of these as you have: garlic powder, onion powder, white pepper, dried thyme, dried oregano, and paprika. A little bit of cayenne is nice too, just don't go overboard 'cause it's SPICY. Ultimately, there's a lot going on in this recipe and it'll still taste delicious if you don't have every single spice.

What can I serve this with besides rice?

This is delicious served over pretty much any grain: farro, quinoa, or barley are all great. They serve an important purpose: soaking up all that good sauce! If you don't feel like cooking a grain, serving with some crusty bread for dipping would also be delicious. If you're looking for low-carb options, cauliflower rice or a simple salad like this roasted beat and goat cheese one.

How long does this keep in the refrigerator? Freezer?

Kept in an airtight container in the back of the fridge, this will last up to 5 days. Any longer than that and you'll probably want to freeze it. In the freezer, it can last for months! We recommend defrosting it in a pan, adding water or seafood stock to help thin the sauce as needed.

What's the difference between Étouffée and gumbo?

Unlike gumbo, Étouffée is thought of as an entree. Gumbo often combines several types of meat like chicken, shrimp, and sausage, while Étouffée usually only contains one type of protein: typically shrimp or crayfish.

How do I make this creamy?

Simple! Add heavy cream! We'd suggest adding a tablespoon or two in at step 4. If you don't have heavy cream, cream cheese or sour cream are also good options.

How do I make this healthy?

Well, it's not that unhealthy to begin with. If you're trying to cut calories, rice should probably be the first thing to go. Refer to question #2 for alternatives. 😁


Recipe Notes and Tips

  • The Stock. As mentioned, you can skip the step for making your own shrimp stock if you&rsquod like to save time. Either use a store bought brand, or use readily available chicken stock. I used chicken stock to make my shrimp stock, as sort of a double whammy of flavor. You can use water instead to make your shrimp stock.
  • For the roux, 10-12 minutes is really all that is needed to make a light blonde roux. If you keep cooking and stirring, the roux will eventually darken to the color of copper, then chocolate, then dark chocolate. You can just cook it to the color you prefer.
  • Tomatoes &ndash Yes or No? I&rsquove seen some discussions that say a true, classic &ldquoetouffee&rdquo should not include tomatoes. You can, of course, skip the tomatoes and just go with the gravy thickened by the roux. It will be delicious. I like it both ways. It&rsquos the same thing with gumbo. If you want tomato? Go for it! If not, skip it.
  • The Shrimp. For the shrimp, you can easily just tuck the raw shrimp into the sauce and let them simmer a few minutes until they are cooked through. This is where the &ldquosmothering&rdquo part of the dish&rsquos name comes in. I prefer a bit more snap to my shrimp, so I saute them instead and serve them over the top.
  • Seafood Options. You can make this recipe with other types of seafood, as well as with chicken. Chicken Etouffee is a real thing, luckily for us, as is Crawfish Etouffee. Feel free to use a mix of seafood. Outstanding!
  • How to Make Gumbo. If you love this recipe, you&rsquoll probably love a good gumbo as well. Check out my Guide on How to Make Gumbo to learn how to make it different ways, and also to learn more about the history and the roux.


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