Shrimp Étouffée

It seems October has vanished right before my eyes. I had a handful of posts for this month…and I notice that none of them are here! So…I’m going to try to catch up…here goes…

In French, the word “étouffée” means “smothered” or “suffocated.”  It is said to be similar to gumbo, but much thicker. Quite frankly, I don’t see much resemblance to gumbo once you get past making the roux. Gumbo can have all kinds of crazy things in it and is much more like a stew. Étouffée is more like gravy in my mind. And while I’ve heard rumors of people putting tomatoes or tomato paste into étouffée, I can’t support such a controversial practice…especially since we are less than a day’s drive from Louisiana.

I could probably tell you all kinds of other interesting things about étouffée, but I’m trying to catch up here, so I’ll be brief. My husband says, “This is just about the best thing you can do to a shrimp.”

There’s not really much else to say.


3/4 cup oil

3/4 cup flour

1 cup onion, chopped

1 TB parsley, chopped

1 TB green onions, chopped

2 tsp celery, chopped

2 tsp bell pepper, chopped

1-2 pounds cleaned crawfish or shrimp

2 tsp paprika


salt and pepper

Tabasco to taste (optional)

(You can probably tell from my piles of chopped veggies that I have a hard time using those tiny little amounts like 2 tsp…but it’s close.)

Use the flour and oil to make a small, dark roux over medium-high heat (about 10-15 minutes.)  If you haven’t ever made a roux before, plan to practice. And plan to go through a couple of batches of oil and flour. As my mother-in-law says, “If it smells burnt, it is.”)

Roux with veggies cooking

Once your roux is nice and dark, add all chopped vegetables and cook until tender (5-7 minutes.) Then add crawfish or shrimp and paprika. Cook until crawfish or shrimp are pink – just a few minutes – it should be very thick.

See how gummy and thick it is when you are cooking the shrimp?

Add water, 1 TB at a time, until your étouffée is the consistency you desire. Salt and pepper to taste and serve over rice. Use Tabasco (or other heat) if desired.

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