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This recipe is for a classic Louisiana dish crawfish etouffee. Etouffee's was made famous by the Cajun's. Usually, etouffee is made with crawfish, shrimp, chicken, or sometimes all the above.
Louisiana crawfish season is from mid-March to mid-June. This recipe, however, can be made with fresh crawfish tail meat or frozen crawfish tail meat, which is readily available year-round and found in most grocery stores.
Some Louisiana seafood companies offer frozen crawfish tails for out-of-season enjoyment. Be careful, though because there are several frozen brands that say Louisiana crawfish but are really from China.
In New Orleans, you may find some crawfish etouffee's with a reddish hue from tomatoes or tomato paste. This recipe is more Cajun than Creole. Mainly in New Orleans, you will find shrimp etouffee over crawfish.
I learned how to make an authentic Cajun Crawfish etouffee in college, and this recipe hasn't changed in the last 12 years because you don't mess with perfection.
To make this signature Louisiana recipe, you will need the following key ingredients to make an etouffee successfully:
I cannot stress the fact that all crawfish tails are not made the same. Louisiana crawfish tails are loaded with fat, and that fat equals an abundance of flavor! You can find frozen crawfish tails year-round in the frozen seafood section in the grocery store.
You can use either butter or oil for making your roux for your etouffee recipe. I find butter gives it a better overall mouthfeel.
Flour is the second key component for making a roux. It's going to add the toasted nutty flavor and body to our etouffee.
Yellow onion is the leader in the trinity of Cajun-Creole cooking.
Green bell pepper is the co-star of yellow onions and provides a mild sweetness.
Celery ties the trinity together by providing a mild bitterness that goes unnoticed.
I like to use chicken broth in my crawfish étouffée. I find that it adds another layer of flavor. However, you can use a homemade seafood stock from any crawfish boil scraps.
I like to use Cajun seasoning for my etouffee. Salt and pepper won't add enough depths of flavor. You can adjust the seasonings at the end by adding a little salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper.
Louisiana is one of the largest rice producers in the world. If you're going to enjoy a delicious etouffee, you're going to have it over hot cooked rice. It doesn't matter if it's white rice or brown rice. Avoid jasmine or basmati; the sweetness of those rice will not play well with the etouffee.
How to make Cajun Crawfish etouffee Recipe
Making crawfish étouffée is simple. It's all in the roux, and once you learn how to get the correct color. You are on your way to etouffee heaven. Here is what you need to make them at home successfully.
1 stick unsalted butter
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 bay leaves
3 tablespoons Cajun or Creole seasoning
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon dry thyme
3 – 3 ½ cups unsalted chicken stock
2 lbs. peeled Louisiana crawfish tails
1 cup sliced green onion
4 cups cooked rice
to taste Louisiana hot sauce
Heat a cast iron skillet or large skillet over medium heat, melt butter and whisk in flour. Whisk until a peanut butter brown color is achieved; then stir in onion, bell pepper, and celery and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in garlic, bay leaf, savory seasoning, cayenne, and thyme.
Whisk 3 cups of stock in thirds, stirring occasionally and bring to a boil. If etouffee is too thick, add ¼ cup more stock. Reduce heat to a simmer, adjust the flavor to taste, add crawfish tails. Cook for 3 minutes until crawfish are cooked. Stir in ½ cup of green onion. Serve over hot cooked rice and garnish with remaining green onions.
Crawfish Etouffee Tips & Tricks:
Here are some of my top tips and tricks to help you make this dish:
Your roux should be peanut butter brown. Your roux will smell and look like peanut butter.
- The holy trinity is the vegetable base of Cajun-Creole cooking. Onion, green bell pepper, and celery.
- Yes, you can use gluten-free flour to make the roux.
- Louisiana crawfish tails are enormous and have more flavor. Then other sourced crawfish tails. However, use whatever crawfish tails you can find. Check the packing to see if it was processed in Louisana.
- Crawfish season starts in March and ends in July.
- You can make a homemade seafood stock by simmering the holy trinity scraps and any leftover crawfish from a crawfish boil.
- Some seasoning can be salty if you're looking for a low-sodium version. I recommend Savory Cajun seasoning.
- If you forget to thaw your crawfish. Place frozen crawfish in a bowl or vessel large enough to hold it, and run cool water. It should thaw in 10 minutes.
- If you're making crawfish etouffee for someone vegan, swap the crawfish for oyster mushrooms.
Frequently Asked Questions about Louisiana Crawfish Etouffee
Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about crawfish etouffee:
What color roux should my etouffee be?
A peanut butter brown roux is the perfect color for an etouffee. A white or blonde roux will not have enough flavor (nutty notes).
A dark cocoa brown roux will have lost its nutty notes and thickening power. An etouffee should be a lovely brown color with flavor notes of nuts, herbs, and spice.
How is etouffee different from gumbo?
The difference between etouffee and gumbo is that etouffee is thicker, made with butter roux, and has a gravy consistency.
An etouffee and gumbo have the holy trinity (onion, celery, bell pepper) and a dark brown roux. Gumbo is thinner, made with an oil roux and a soup consistency.
I should also be mention that gumbos NEVER have crawfish in them.
How thick should etouffee be?
An etouffee should be slightly less thick than a gravy you would use on mashed potatoes. Think of a crawfish etouffee as a jazzed-up gravy and rice dish, except you want the gravy to have some thickness.
What does etouffee taste like?
Etouffee has a deep nutty flavor from the roux. The peanut butter roux creates an umami flavor that deepens depending on the color of your roux. The holy trinity, garlic, and Cajun seasoning take it up a notch from your traditional gravy.
You can add shrimp, crawfish, or chicken to your etouffee.
What does etouffee mean?
Etouffee is a French word that means smothered or suffocated. It is pronounced, "et-too-fe."
What’s the difference between Cajun and Creole?
The easiest way to tell the difference is the Cajun's cuisine is country cooking, where you get a fair amount of smothered and fried foods. The French Acadians settled in west Louisiana and were later known as "Cajuns." Cajun cities are Lafeyette, Golden Medal, and Thibodaux, to name a few.
Creole cuisine is city cooking (New Orleans) and has a certain level of refinement to it. You will see many similar dishes, but Creole cuisine will usually include more tomato products from Italian influence. Creole cuisine is a gumbo of cultures: West African, Native Americans, French, Spanish, Italian, Germans, and English.
Can you make it ahead?
Fridge: Crawfish Etouffee: After etouffee cools off, place it in an airtight container in the fridge for 7 days max.
Freeze: Crawfish Etouffee: After etouffee cools off, place in an airtight container and freeze for 3 months. Thaw 24 hours before reheating.
Reheating: Crawfish Etouffee: Turn on heat to medium, add all ingredients in a small or medium saucepan, cook until mixture starts to boil. About 10 minutes or less.
Crawfish Etouffee Recipe Video:
One-To-One Substitution Options:
You can have some fun when making crawfish etouffee, regardless of your diet. Here are a few options for swaps:
Chicken, Oyster Mushrooms, Shrimp, or Lobster = Louisiana Crawfish
Shrimp Stock, Fish Stock, or Vegetable Stock = Chicken Stock
Gluten-Free Flour = All-Purpose Flour
what to serve with Crawfish Etouffee?
Crawfish etouffee can be served over hot cooked rice with some cornbread or French bread to soak up all of that delicious gravy!
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- 1 stick unsalted butter
- ½ cup flour
- 1 large onion chopped
- 1 bell pepper chopped
- 3 stalks celery chopped
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 tablespoons savory nola or creole seasoning
- 1 teaspoon cayenne
- 1 teaspoon dry thyme
- 3 – 3 ½ cups unsalted chicken stock
- 2 lbs. crawfish or medium shrimp peeled, tail on and deveined
- 1 cup green onions sliced
- 4 cups cooked rice
- to taste Louisiana hot sauce
- Heat a cast iron skillet or heavy bottom skillet over medium heat, melt butter and whisk in flour. Whisk until a peanut butter brown color is achieved; then stir in onion, bell pepper, and celery and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in garlic, bay leaf, savory seasoning, cayenne and thyme.
- Whisk stock in by third’s and bring to a boil. If too thick add more stock. Reduce heat to a simmer adjust flavor to taste, add crawfish. Cook for 3 minutes until crawfish are cooked. Stir in ½ cup of green onions. Serve over rice garnish with remaining green onions.
I was so intimated to make this because I thought it would be difficult. Chef Kenneth makes cooking so easy and this yummy recipe is a prime example. Can't wait to make it again!
Rosalia Q. Figueroa says
I tried this recipe, and it was really good, but I have questions I want to ask; how can I reach you?
Kenneth Temple says
Glad to hear you enjoyed it. I can be reached at email@example.com
I made a double batch of this wonderful recipe for our family Good Friday gathering here in New Orleans With Gluten Free Flour and it is wonderfully delicious -- got raves from everyone. No one could tell it was gluten free. Really appreciated Chef Kenneth's information, guidance, and tips.
Would really like to know, Chef, the ingredients in your Savory New Orleans All Purpose Seasoning. I really wanted to order some but have family members with dietary issues who don't do well with onions and garlic.
I just made this etoufee recipe and it is delicious. A little too spicy, but that's just an adjustment to the cayenne. I love it. Easy to make and quick and delicious. I will be making this again.