Shrimp Etouffée

“Etouffée” means “smothered,” and that’s the idea. It’s not a long-cooked stew. – Tom Fitzmorris

Recipe Adapted from John Besh’s My New Orleans

I think I finally got over the Saints losing in the playoffs this weekend, and let go of my delusions of being able to influence the outcome of a game through my culinary ‘offerings’.  With this baggage off my shoulders, I can finally share with you my shrimp etouffée recipe and lessons learned.  This was my first foray into etouffée and into NOLA style seafood, after making over the last year a couple of chicken and sausage gumbos and jambalayas.  Etouffée is the French word for stew (and Spanish’s estofado, although I like guiso better).   Depending on the recipe/school of thought you may have a thickened up seafood gumbo or a very rich butter and spice based sauteed dish.  The most popular etouffees are crawfish, but shrimp and crab are widely used as well.

Etouffée, like gumbo, starts with a roux made of equal parts fat and butter, cooked to a dark brown color. Getting the roux to the color of milk chocolate should take somewhere between fifteen and twenty minutes over medium heat.

The Roux

  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Once the roux is ready, reduce the heat to medium-low and add one small diced onion. The onion should be cooked until soft. It is very important to hold out on adding any other ingredient until the onion is translucent, as the moisture from the other vegetables would halt the caramelization of the process. The roux will get a little darker.

When the onions are ready, add the following ingredients and cook for about five minutes.

  • 1 diced celery stalk
  • 1/2 bell pepper – whichever color you may have on hand
  • 3 cloves of garlic – depending on the size
  • Leaves from three sprigs of thyme
  • 1.5 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 bay leaf

At this time, you are ready to add 2 1/2 cups of liquid into your pot and a small peeled and chopped tomato. This is the only point in the recipe where I disagree with Mr. Besh. His original recipe calls for one quart of shellfish stock. My secondary source, Emeril Lagasse’s recipe calls for one quart of stock as well – for double the amount of roux and thrice the seafood. Etouffée is supposed to be like a gravy. By following the recipe ‘to a T’ the first time, I got a pretty tasty shrimp gumbo. Ideally, you would have shrimp or seafood stock on hand, but since my freezer bag of shrimp tails is nowhere near full at this point I bought a seafood base to create a broth. Clam juice is an acceptable substitute too.

After the sauce has come to a boil, reduce and simmer for five to seven minutes, making sure that nothing sticks (and burns!) to the bottom of your pan. Reduce the heat to low and add:

  • 3 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 to 1.5 pounds of cleaned, deveined shrimp (save the tails and shells for stock)
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 2 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 dashes of Louisiana-style hot sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Once the shrimp are cooked thoroughly, serve with long grain white rice. The recipe yields at least four generous portions, and the leftovers are awesome.

My Orleans: The Cookbook on Foodista

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Adriana is a financial analyst by day, avid home cook in the evenings, and food blogger and runner in the strange hours between those two. When not in the kitchen concocting meals and stories to pass around, she is out looking for the next great bite (or the ingredients to make it at home), checking what's new at the market, or planning a trip around great food and wine.

3 Responses to “Shrimp Etouffée”

  1. Katerina
    January 19, 2011 at 8:47 am #

    This dish is so full of flavors. I love it. It is so hard to leave you a comment, but I finally made it.

  2. TheArdentEpicur
    January 19, 2011 at 4:59 pm #

    Etouffée, is always a favorite…looks wonderfull 🙂


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