Étouffée (pronounced ay-too-fay) is a popular dish in the Creole cuisine of Luisiana and especially New Orleans. Creole cuisine combines European, African and native American traditions and is one of the distinctive styles of cooking in the United States.
The word étouffée means ‘smothered’ in French. Smothering is a process of cooking anything in its own juices with minimum addition of extra liquid. This is a commonly used technique in Creole cooking.
The flavor base for an étouffée is the ‘holy trinity’ of Creole (and Cajun, a similar cuisine, also developed in Louisiana) cooking: onion, celery and green pepper. Diced into uniform size, they are sautéed in butter to get a dish started. Sometimes the trinity is enhanced with garlic, parsley, or shallots.
They form the base for other Creole-Cajun dishes like jambalaya and gumbo as well.
Étouffée can be made using different shellfish, though crawfish which are specific to Louisiana, are most often used. However, shrimp is an equally good replacement when crawfish are not available.
There are differences of opinion regarding the addition of tomatoes in an étouffée. Also, about roux. Even when there is agreement on the inclusion of roux, opinion differs as to do so at the beginning or towards the end. This version includes tomatoes and a roux, introduced half way through the recipe.
Creole seasoning elegantly blends an array of flavors to come up with a perfectly balanced spice mix. Make this a staple in your spice cabinet, as you can use it for fish, chicken or vegetables.
Étouffée is mostly served with cooked white rice, but you can try mashed potatoes as well.
To make the Creole seasoning, mix together: 2 tbsp paprika, 1 tbsp onion powder, 1 tbsp garlic powder, 1 tbsp dried thyme, 1 tbsp dried oregano, 1 tbsp black pepper, 1 teaspoon cayenne, and 1 teaspoon salt.
E is for Étouffée
- Heat a pan over medium heat and add the butter.
- Add the onions, celery and back pepper. Cook till the onions turn transparent.
- Add the garlic and stir into the mix for 1 minute.
- Sprinkle the flour over the ingredients in the pan and stir well. Continue to cook for about three more minutes.
- Add the chopped tomatoes to the pan.
- Add the stock, Creole seasoning, and salt and pepper to taste. Continue to stir and cook till the liquid thickens. Simmer for 5 more minutes.
- Add the shrimp and continue to cook till the shrimp is fully cooked and turns pink, for another 5 minutes. Adjust seasoning if required.