Louisiana might have been the birthplace of Creole cuisine, but now, you can create one of the state's most coveted classics in your very own kitchen. This authentic, Creole-style Shrimp Etouffée is positively loaded with flavor thanks to the Cajun's holy trinity -- bell pepper, celery, and onion -- fresh tomatoes and a hit of Worcestershire.
You'll be surprised at just how easy this velvety masterpiece comes together and it's all thanks to a foolproof roux, a simple (yet heavenly) sauce, and quick-cooking shrimp! Ladle your étouffée into a bowl, top it with a generous scoop of fluffy white rice, and a sprinkle of green onions for an authentic spoonful of New Orleans flavor.
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.
WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SHRIMP CREOLE AND SHRIMP ETOUFFEE?
Both Shrimp Creole and Shrimp Etouffée are hearty stews showcasing shrimp, served with rice. However, while Creole-style Shrimp Etouffée does indeed have tomatoes, tomatoes are not the dominant flavor profile of the sauce. Shrimp Creole is heavy on the tomato flavor, and it does not contain a roux. Because of this, it has a thinner consistency than étouffée.
WHAT IS SHRIMP ETOUFFEE MADE OF?
Shrimp Etouffée consists of a roux, vegetables, broth, shrimp, and seasoning.
The roux is used to thicken the dish. It is made up of unsalted butter and all-purpose flour.
It's almost impossible to make a Louisiana staple without the Cajun holy trinity of veggie combinations -- diced onion, bell pepper, and celery. In addition to this, you'll also need fresh garlic and tomatoes on hand.
The base of the sauce is the roux, but broth makes up the body of it. You can use either seafood or chicken broth, but make sure whichever one you use is a low-sodium rendition. Tomato paste and Worcestershire add a great deal of flavor to the sauce, as well as Kosher salt, Creole seasoning mix (e.g. Tony Chachere's), black pepper, and a bay leaf. Last, but not least, don't forget the hot sauce!
The size of the shrimp isn't make-or-break for this recipe, although one should note that giant prawns will take longer to cook and are not necessarily "bite-sized." Medium-sized or large shrimp are really best for this dish.
We prefer to use wild-caught, frozen shrimp that comes peeled and deveined. Not having to peel and devein a pound of shrimp speeds along the process of making Shrimp Etouffée quite a bit. You can typically find frozen shrimp near the fresh seafood or in the freezer section. Be sure it is thawed before adding to the pot.
HOW TO MAKE A ROUX
The trick to making a flawlessly creamy, fool-proof roux for Shrimp Etouffée is all about heat and the pace at which you add the broth. This recipe features a blonde roux, which means there will not be much in the way of waiting or whisking. Lucky us.
Butter consists of milk solids and water. Milk solids just so happen to burn quickly, which means you must pay attention to the butter as it melts. As soon as the butter has melted, you'll sprinkle in the flour, and whisk to combine.
Once the flour has completely absorbed into the butter, you can begin adding your broth. Rather than streaming in the broth slowly and constantly, do this: Add the broth one big splash at a time, whisking until the mixture is completely smooth after each addition. Continue in this way until about 2 cups of broth have been incorporated.
Then, you can whisk in the remaining broth, and allow the mixture to simmer until properly thickened. This method guarantees a smooth and creamy roux!
HOW TO MAKE SHRIMP ETOUFFEE
- Sauté Veggies In Butter - Add the butter to a large sauté pan or pot and allow it to melt. Then, add the onion, bell pepper, and the celery. Stir the vegetables occasionally until softened. Then add the garlic and stir 1 minute more.
- Make the Roux - Sprinkle the flour over the vegetable mixture and stir for 1 to 2 minutes.
- Make the Sauce - Add the tomato paste and begin adding the broth one big splash at a time, whisking well after each addition. After half of the broth has been incorporated, you can stream in the rest, whisking all the while. Add the Worcestershire, hot sauce, spices, bay leaf, and diced tomato and stir.
- Simmer and Add Shrimp - Simmer until the mixture is slightly thickened, stirring occasionally. Add the shrimp and simmer an additional 5 minutes, stirring often. Once the shrimp is pink and firm to the touch, it is done. Ladle the Shrimp Etouffée in a bowl and top with a mound of rice.
WHAT TO SERVE WITH SHRIMP ETOUFFEE?
The proper way to serve Shrimp Etouffée is in a bowl under rice, not over it. A slice of freshly-baked French bread or baguette is a welcomed addition to the bowl, and if you'd like to bulk up the meal a bit more, serve it alongside a House Salad.
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A creamy, velvety smooth Creole-style Shrimp Etouffée with a foolproof roux, a simple sauce fortified with the Cajun's holy trinity of vegetables, fresh tomatoes, and quick-cooking shrimp!
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 yellow onion, finely diced
- 1 green bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
- 3 stalks of celery, finely diced
- 3 cloves of garlic
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 4 cups unsalted chicken broth or unsalted seafood broth
- 2 ½ teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce
- 2 teaspoons Cajun or Creole seasoning
- ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
- Generous pinch black pepper
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 large tomato (seeds and pulp removed), diced
- 1 pound large wild-caught shrimp, peeled and deveined (see note below)
Add the butter to a large sauté pan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Do not allow the butter to burn. Add the onion, bell pepper, and celery as soon as the butter has melted and sauté until softened, 6-8 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté 1 minute more.
Sprinkle the flour over the mixture, and stir for about 1 - 2 minutes.
Stir in the tomato paste, and begin adding the first 2 cups of broth one big splash at a time, stirring well after each addition. Add the remaining broth and stir to combine.
Stir in the Worcestershire, hot sauce, Cajun seasoning, salt, black pepper, bay leaf, and diced tomato.
Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer, and simmer for 6-8 minutes, until the mixture is slightly thickened. Stir occasionally. Add the shrimp and simmer an additional 5 minutes, stirring often. Serve with a heaping serving of fluffy white rice, and enjoy!
We prefer to use wild-caught, frozen shrimp that comes peeled and deveined to speed along the preparations. You can typically find frozen shrimp near the fresh seafood or in the freezer section. Be sure it is thawed before adding to the pot.