Shrimp étouffée is a classic Cajun favorite that one must have when visiting Louisiana. It’s made with fresh Gulf shrimp, the Cajun holy trinity of onion, celery, and bell pepper, and a decadent flour and butter roux.
We were recently passing through Louisiana on our cross-country trip, and now that we’re back home, I can’t figure out how we missed out on this classic dish! Well, come to think of it, I guess it was the seafood gumbo, fried chicken, crawfish boils, catfish po-boys, fried oysters, baked oysters, and raw oyster bars that did it…somehow étouffée fell off the map!
New Orleans and this shrimp étouffée recipe is the fifth of our (Judy and Bill’s) Road Trip series, wherein we visited Annapolis, Savannah, and the Florida Keys. After the leaving the Keys, we drove up through the east coast of Florida (including a stop at a Florida orange grove) to New Orleans. Scroll down past the recipe for some snapshots of this awesome city!
For now, let’s get serious with this Shrimp étouffée. The key ingredient in this recipe is the seafood stock, which really elevates the flavor of the sauce—hence our recommendation to use shrimp with heads and tails on (at the very least with tails). Shrimp heads, when properly cooked, pack a ton of flavor into the stock and, of course, into the shrimp étouffée. The sooner we get started, the sooner you’ll see why.
(If you prefer crawfish étouffée, feel free to substitute crawfish for shrimp. Yep, it’s that easy! Also, make sure to cook your rice before you start the cooking process. There’s nothing sadder than waiting for rice to cook while your main dish is hot and ready to go!)
If you’re feeling more like a gumbo, then try Kaitlin’s Chicken Andouillie Gumbo!
Shrimp Étouffée Recipe Instructions
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a saucepan over high heat, and add all of the shrimp shells and heads, along with the bay leaves.
Sauté until the shrimp shells are seared to a reddish orange color, and the heads are soft. Add the chicken stock and water, and let simmer for about 5 minutes.
Use a wooden spoon or spatula to press down on the heads and shells and extract their flavor. Simmer the shrimp stock for another 5-10 minutes. Don’t be squeamish at this step! It’ll all be worth it in the end.
Remove the stock from the heat and pour through a strainer into a bowl. You should have about 2 cups of what is now shrimp stock and a tom of base flavor for your shrimp étouffée. Set aside.
Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat, and gradually whisk in the flour until there are no lumps.
Continue to heat this roux over medium low heat until it turns a medium brown color (about 5-7 minutes). Whisk constantly to avoid burning.
Add the thyme, oregano, paprika, cayenne, salt, and pepper to the roux.
Mix for 20 seconds to bring out the flavors of the spices. Next, add the onion, celery, bell peppers, and garlic to the pan and stir for another minute.
Stir in the shrimp stock, and let the whole mixture simmer on low heat for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Bring the heat back up to medium, and add the peeled shrimp and scallions to the sauce. Stir everything together until the shrimp is cooked, about 3 minutes.
Mix the rice with the remaining tablespoon of oil, along with the parsley, reserving some parsley for garnish if desired. Serve the rice with the shrimp étouffée, and garnish with the reserved parsley.
You can be fancy and mound the rice in the center and pour the shrimp étouffée around it like a delicious shrimp gravy moat. Mmmm…