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Fish 4 Friday: Shrimp Étouffée

Shrimp Etouffee

If you watch Emeril Live (and who doesn’t?) you’ve probably seen him make this dish. As a naturalized Cajun, Emeril knows how to make this stuff well! And I learned how from him. After all, we’re bestest buds now that I stood in line for seven hours to get one of his books autographed at Wal-Mart and which undoubtedly added a half dollar to his sprawling empire. I’ve got nearly all his cookbooks, you know. (Hint to family lurking in the background: I don’t have ALL of them, yet. There’s even one that’s about to be released. And Christmas is fast approaching. If you can’t find any of Emeril’s books, though, then something from Alton Brown will do.) Shoot, I like to think I’ve even improved on Chef Lagasse’s version of this dish! (Just don’t tell Emeril; I’d hate to disappoint him. We’ll just let this be our little secret, okay?)

The word “étouffée” means “smothered.” For all you folks who live north of Dixon and Mason’s border, that means covered in gravy. Even that doesn’t do the concept justice in the South, and certainly not in Cajun country. Gravy you can get in a jar in some parts of the country. In places where we actually cook our food, we make our own sauce. In the pan. With the food. That makes the gravy taste good; get it?

This dish has a wonderful, zesty sauce de viande that really melts down into the rice:

Mud Bugs

Classic étouffée uses crawdads; crayfish to all y’all Yankees. (Remember: “Y’all” is singular; “All Y’all” is plural.) Since they’re sometimes hard to get in other parts of the country, you can use shrimp instead. But only if you swear you spent half a day searching for crawdaddies! And I don’t mean going store-to-store and staring in the seafood freezer. There better be water stains on your Levi’s, scrapes on your elbows from where you fell in, and moss residue under your fingernails before you even think about using shrimp!

You can make this dish as zesty and spicy as you like; add or subtract chiles and cayenne, and the Cajun spices (or Emeril’s Essence) can help with heat control too. Just be sure to put SOME spice in there, or you’ll have boring shrimp in flat gravy. Not the same. Besides, the Cajun Cooking Righteous Protective Society might pull your license…

Enjoy the (Seabug or Mudbug Gravy) Heat!

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2 comments to Fish 4 Friday: Shrimp Étouffée

  • Hello,

    We bumped into your blog and we really liked it – great recipes YUM YUM.
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    Best regards,

    Vincent
    petitchef.com

  • Vincent, thanks for stopping by! I hope you enjoy the recipes. Do some more bumping; tell all your friends too! Why keep a secret? (big grin)

    I’ll stop by and check out the site. Maybe I’ll even learn some French (as opposed to Cajun) …