Dish of the Week: Étouffée

From classic comfort foods to regional standouts and desserts, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you each week. See the complete list of recipes at the end of this post.

This week, we're sharing a recipe for a Louisiana classic: étouffée (or etouffee)

Étouffée (pronounced eh-too-fay) is a popular Cajun/Creole dish typically made with shellfish -- shrimp, crab, or crawfish -- and served over rice. Most popular is the crawfish version, which originated in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana sometime in the late 1920s/early 1930s. However it wasn't until 1983 -- when a waiter at the Bourbon Street restaurant Galatoire's served crawfish etouffee to his boss -- that the dish became a New Orleans staple.

The French word "étouffée" is derived from the verb "étouffer", meaning to smother, stuff, or stifle. When making the dish, the shellfish are literally smothered in a thick sauce that starts with a buttery, nutty roux and the holy trinity of Cajun cooking: onions, bell peppers, and celery. In Cajun cuisine, the roux is typically light or blond; While in Creole versions, the roux may be cooked longer to deepen the color and flavor -- and sometimes, tomatoes are added in.

Since it's not crawfish season (yet!), this recipe for shrimp ettoufee, from Big Easy chef Emeril Lagasse, is perfectly delicious. It uses Creole spices, tomatoes and of course, shrimp, but feel free to sub in mudbugs when they're big enough.

Shrimp Etouffee

Ingredients yields 10 servings 6 tbsp unsalted butter 1/2 cup all-purpose flour 4 cups chopped onions 2 cups chopped green bell peppers 2 cups chopped celery 2 tbso minced garlic 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes 2 bay leaves 2 tsp salt 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper 2 tsp Essence or Creole seasoning, recipe follows 1 qt shrimp stock 3 lbs medium shrimp (21 to 25 count/lb), peeled and deveined 1/4 cup chopped parsley leaves Steamed white rice, for serving 1/2 cup thinly sliced green onion tops, for garnish

For the Essence: Combine 2 1/2 tbsp paprika, 2 tbsp salt, 2 tbsp garlic powder, 1 tbsp black pepper, 1 tbsp onion powder, 1 tbsp cayenne pepper, 1 tbsp dried oregano, and 1 tbsp dried thyme.


Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven set over medium heat. Add the flour and stir continuously to make a roux. Stir the roux over medium heat until it is the color of peanut butter, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the onions, bell peppers, celery, and garlic to the roux, and cook, stirring often, for 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes to the pot and season with the bay leaves, salt, cayenne, and 1 tbsp of the Essence seasoning. Cook the tomatoes for 2 to 3 minutes and then whisk in the shrimp stock.

Bring the mixture to a boil, and reduce to a simmer. Cook the etouffee, stirring occasionally, for about 45 minutes. Season the shrimp with the remaining tablespoon of Essence and add them to the pot, stirring to evenly distribute. Cook the shrimp for 5 to 7 minutes, or until they are cooked through. Add the chopped parsley to the pot and stir to combine.

Serve immediately over steamed white rice and garnish with sliced green onion tops.

See more Dishes of the Week: Dish of the Week: Coq Au Vin Dish of the Week: Argentine Chimichurri Dish of the Week: Flourless Chocolate Cake Dish of the Week: New England Clam Chowder Dish of the Week: Beef Stroganoff Dish of the Week: Hushpuppies Dish of the Week: Irish Soda Bread Dish of the Week: Pastitsio Dish of the Week: Chicken Tikka Masala Dish of the Week: The Cuban Sandwich Dish of the Week: Chicken and Chorizo Empanadas Dish of the Week: Potato Kugel Dish of the Week: Korean Fried Chicken Dish of the Week: Wiener Schnitzel Dish of the Week: Mexican Chilaquiles Dish of the Week: Falafel Dish of the Week: Fish and Chips Dish of the Week: Jucy Lucy Dish of the Week: Gazpacho Dish of the Week: Baklava Dish of the Week: Steak au Poivre Dish of the Week: Fried Green Tomatoes Dish of the Week: Turkish Shish Kebab Dish of the Week: Alabama White Sauce Dish of the Week: Plum Clafoutis Dish of the Week: Spaghetti alla Carbonara Dish of the Week: Homemade Pierogi Dish of the Week: Scallion Pancakes Dish of the Week: Mofongo Dish of the Week: Summer Risotto Dish of the Week: The Chicago-Style Hot Dog Dish of the Week: Beer-Battered Apple Fritters Dish of the Week: Spaghetti alla Puttanesca Dish of the Week: Chicken-Fried Steak Dish of the Week: Soufflé au Fromage Dish of the Week: Manhattan Clam Chowder Dish of the Week: Klobasneks Dish of the Week: Moussaka Dish of the Week: Arancini Dish of the Week: Classic Bread Pudding

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Brooke Viggiano is a contributing writer who is always looking to share Houston's coolest and tastiest happenings with the Houston Press readers.
Contact: Brooke Viggiano