Sticky Notes of Thoughts

…because some thoughts are worth remembering

On Flavors Beyond Spices (recipe): Étouffée


Flavors not only please the palate but can transport you to a different place or time by evoking memories (as with (Proust’s) madeleine). I made an étouffée to thank my hosts in the Bay Area as one of them is from the South. Before I even tasted it, I was remembering a friend from Louisiana who passed away last year around this time (and way before her time) and how her loving husband (and also a great host) showed me the secret to his roux making, and introduced me to Cajun and Creole cooking (and a Louisiana ritual to plan for the next meal as a topic of conversation at the present meal).

I usually associate flavors that transport one to a particular geography to spices rather than the ingredients because the ingredients unique or typically used in the area are hard to come by, if at all, or pricey , For étouffée, however, I was pleasantly surprised how the mere act of making roux evoked a strong emotion and memory of the wonderful time we had in Louisiana and the hospitality of my old friends.

Even without the use of crawfish, a key ingredient to Louisiana cuisine, I think they would approve that an étouffée was prepared as a token of our appreciation for our new hosts whose hospitality is as warm and rich as the dish itself.

Modified from the Crawfish Étouffée recipe in “The New Orleans Cookbook”.

Shrimp Étouffée

  1. In a heavy 5-quart pot, melt 4 tablespoons butter over low heat and add 1/4 cup flour gradually, stirring constantly.
  2. Cook over low heat to form a roux and cook it until it turns a shade darker than golden brown (about 20 min.), stirring and appreciating friends, both old and new.
  3. Add 1.5 cups chopped onion, at least 3 cloves of minced garlic into the pot. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Stir. Add 1 teaspoon of salt, and freshly ground pepper to taste.
  4. When the garlic is fragrant, add 1.5 cups chopped pepper (traditionally green, but other colors work fine), and 3/4 cup chopped celery. Add 1/4 teaspoon cayenne (even if you like it spicy, best to get the rest of the heat from crush red peppers or hot sauce after it’s plated so everyone can control their own heat). Stir often for 15 min.
  5. Add 15 –18 oz. peeled and deveined shrimp (large) and 1/2 cup thinly sliced scallion tops. Heat until the shrimp just start to turn pink.
  6. Add 1 cup of water (optional: with some vegetable or seafood bouillon), bring to a boil and lower the heat and simmer for about 5 min. or until the shrimp is cooked through.
  7. Add additional 1–2 cups of hot water gradually to make the étouffée to the consistency you prefer. Add 1 tablespoon lemon juice and adjust for salt.
  8. Serve hot over rice, garnish with minced fresh parsley.

Being a one pot/pan meal and because it can be made ahead, it’s great for entertaining. As you feast on your holiday meals, consider making an étouffée for your next meal.

 Photo: Café Du Monde, the place for beignets and chicory coffee in New Orleans

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This entry was posted on December 25, 2015 by in Food, Recipes and tagged , , .
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