Crawfish Étouffée

Do you call them crawfish, crayfish or crawdads? They are all the same thing, but it all depends on where in the United States you are living. My mom is from Vermont and calls them crawdads while my brother went to school in Alabama and calls them crawfish. I am going the “southern” route and calling them crawfish. This dish consists of a rich Cajun seafood stew made with crawfish. Étouffée comes from the French word “étouffer” which translates to “smothered”.

Cajun roux differs from your typical roux bases used in soups. It is cooked longer to add deeper color and flavor to the dishes. The roux, combined with the paprika, cayenne and crawfish,  gives this dish a deep orangey/ red color. I used a combination of frozen crawfish tails and some fresh ones leftover from a crawfish boil I had the day before. It takes a lot of time and patience to peel the amount of crawfish needed for the recipe, but there is also a more convenient way to prepare crawfish for cooking. The frozen crawfish tails are available at specialty seafood shops and using them cuts out prep time and while they aren’t as fresh, it will do the trick.

 

Ingredients:

¼ cup canola oil

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1 medium yellow onion, diced

3 medium celery stalks, diced

1 green bell pepper

1 jalapeño, seeded and diced

3 cloves garlic

2 medium Roma tomatoes, cored and diced

1 teaspoon chopped thyme

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

¼ cayenne pepper

3 cups seafood stock

2 pounds peeled cooked crawfish tails

1 teaspoon Worcestershire

1½ teaspoons Louisiana hot sauce

2 tablespoons heavy cream

Kosher salt, as needed

Freshly ground black pepper, as needed

4 cups cooked white rice, for serving

3 green onions, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

 

Instructions:

Heat a large heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over high heat, add the oil and heat through. Whisk the flour into the hot oil to make the roux. Lower the heat to medium-low and continue to whisk until the roux becomes a deep brown color, about 10 minutes.

Add the onions, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the onions caramelize, about 4 minutes. Add the celery, bell pepper, jalapeño and garlic, cooking until the vegetables become soft, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato then stir in the thyme, paprika, cayenne and the shellfish stock, increasing the heat to medium.

Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens, about 10 minutes.

Add the crawfish tails and stir in the Worcestershire and hot sauce and cream. Season with salt and pepper as needed. Ladle the mixture into soup bowls and top with a scoop of rice. Garnish with green onions and parsley.

 

Serves 6.

 

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