E is for Étouffée 

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 

Difficulty:BeginnerServings:4 servings



  1. Heat a pan over medium heat and add the butter.
  2. Add the onions, celery and back pepper. Cook till the onions turn transparent.
  3. Add the garlic and stir into the mix for 1 minute.
  4. Sprinkle the flour over the ingredients in the pan and stir well. Continue to cook for about three more minutes.
  5. Add the chopped tomatoes to the pan.
  6. 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.
  7. Add the shrimp and continue to cook till the shrimp is fully cooked and turns pink, for another 5 minutes. Adjust seasoning if required.
Keywords:Creole, Etouffee, Seafood, Shrimp, Louisiana

D is for Dongnae Pajeon

Dongnae Pajeon (Korean scallion seafood pancakes) has its origin in the Dongnae region of Korea. Legend has it that the residents threw scallions that grew abundantly in the region, at the retreating Japanese army. Dongnae pajeon was created to honor that victory. And the dish was presented at the king’s table. 

Scallion seafood pancakes must be one of the most popular items in any Korean restaurant. However, the regular haemul pajeon differs from dongnae pajeon in that while scallions and seafood are mixed into the batter for the regular haemul pajeon, they are layered and crisped for the dongnae pajeon.

The batter is made from a combination of glutinous and non-glutinous flours. I have used equal quantities of rice flour and all-purpose flour to make the batter for this recipe.

You can use a variety of seafood in the dongnae pajeon. Clams, mussels, oysters, shrimp, squid, and scallops are all perfect for this dish. I have used shrimp and scallops for this version. 

Traditionally, minari, a green leafy herb sometimes known as water celery or chinese celery, is an ingredient in the dongnae pajeon. As the pajeon is very flavorful even without the minari, I decide to leave it out. If you want to, you can use watercress in its place.

Being around Koreatown in Manhattan, I’ve eaten many a pajeon over the years. And I have tried to perfect the recipe and the method of preparing it.

The secret is to get the batter to the right consistency of a thin pancake batter. Then you start going across the scallion pieces in lines, till you have almost covered them. Almost, but not quite.

Then you quickly lay out the seafood over the batter and follow up with another set of lines of batter over the seafood. A drizzle of oil over that, and cover and cook for two-three minutes when it will be time to turn the pajeon over. You are almost there!

Serve with dipping sauce on the side. 

To make the dipping sauce, mix together soy sauce (2 tbsp), rice vinegar (1 tbsp), mirin (1 tbsp), and gochujang, the Korean chili-soy paste (1 tbsp). If you prefer a less spicy dipping sauce, you can use any fermented soy paste instead of gochujang. On the other hand if you prefer it spicier, add a spurt of sriracha. 

D is for Dongnae Pajeon

Difficulty:AdvancedServings:8 servings



  1. Sieve together the rice flour, all-purpose flour and baking powder.
  2. Cut the green parts of the scallions in long pieces, 5 to 7 inches long. All pieces need not be the same length.
  3. Cut the shrimp and scallops into small pieces.
  4. In a bowl, beat the egg together with soy sauce, rice vinegar, and gochujang. Add one and a half cups of water and mix well.
  5. Add minced ginger and garlic to the bowl. Season with salt.
  6. Add the flour mix to the bowl and mix well. Add more water if required, to make a thin pancake batter.
  7. Heat a griddle on the stove top, on medium heat. Oil the griddle.
  8. Lay down a handful of scallion pieces in parallel on the griddle.
  9. Start drizzling the batter in lines across the scallions till they are almost covered.
  10. Quickly place the chopped seafood on top of the batter.
  11. Repeat with another layer of batter on top of the seafood. Make sure you stir the batter before each use as rice flour tends to settle at the bottom.
  12. Drizzle a teaspoon of oil on top of the pajeon.
  13. Cover and cook for two-three minutes.
  14. Turn the pajeon over and continue to cook, uncovered.
  15. Check after two minutes. When sufficiently crisp, remove from the griddle and serve hot with dipping sauce.
  16. To make the dipping sauce, mix together soy sauce (2 tbsp), rice vinegar (1 tbsp), mirin (1 tbsp), and gochujang, the Korean chili-soy paste (1 tbsp).
Keywords:Dongnae Pajeon, Korean Seafood Pancake, Pancakes, Scallions, Seafood

Boatman’s Crab Curry

There is nothing sophisticated about this dish… It is as rustic as can be. Prepared in a hurry, with ingredients that are easily available, by people who are definitely not accomplished chefs. But boy, is it yummy! Once you have tasted it, you will never forget it, I guarantee. And of course, as can be guessed, the secret behind the goodness of this dish is the freshness of its ingredients.


The backwaters of Kerala, the small state on the south western coast of India, are well known for their natural beauty. However, something that is not so well known is the fact that the same backwaters are major channels of commerce. Boats plying on them ferry commodities and people, village to village.

To the boatmen who guide these boats through the network of waterways, the boats are their homes, especially as they are away from their villages for weeks at a time. At the end of a day, they moor their boats and settle down for the night, maybe after a visit to the shop on the banks for some daily necessities. Then it is time to prepare a quick meal in the light of the hurricane lamp. And is there anything better to cook than what can be harvested out of the water, then and there? But they have no time or patience for elaborate preparations. A chop of this, a handful of that… stir together and the boatmen’s fish or crab curry is ready… hot and spicy, enticing!
The ingredients are very basic… chopped onions, tomatoes, crushed ginger and garlic. And a bit of crushed cloves and cardamom. And a mix of coriander, chilli and turmeric powders.


The only change I have made to the original recipe – picked up from watching it being made – is that it has been mellowed down a bit, by the addition of coconut milk.
And of course, the key to the awesomeness of this dish is fresh crabs… I mean, really fresh ones.


Sauté the onions, add the powdered spices, stir in the tomatoes… toss in the crab pieces and stir together.


Add the coconut milk and cook covered for 10 minutes. A sprinkle of curry leaves makes it complete.


Serve with hot boiled rice and you will hear the lilting songs of the boatmen echo on the silvery waters on a still night.