Étouffée (eh-two-fay) derives from the French word meaning “to smother.” The first crawfish étouffée was conjured up in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, home of the native Acadians and known as real “Cajun Country.” In 1959, the Louisiana legislature officially designated Breaux Bridge as “la capitale mondiale de l’ecrevisse”—the crawfish capital of the world. Yes, it’s that serious!
As with many classic creole dishes, making the roux is the first step in creating étouffée wonder. Combing butter, oil, and flour over low heat sets the foundation for a rich, thick, and slightly buttery flavor. An étouffée roux is a lighter, more blond roux, contrary to the reddish-brown gumbo roux, which gives the dish a sweeter taste. Once at the proper color and consistency, the roux is then married with the holy trinity, setting the stage for a what will be a very decadent crawfish étouffée .
Étouffée too has its Cajun and Creole variations. Creole étouffée of course includes butter, but also tomato sauce is added to the sauce. Cajun étouffée will have more of a brown color instead of blond, and no tomatoes. My personal batch is a hybrid of the two, whereas I use butter and oil, omit the tomatoes, and go for a slighter brown roux for added richness.
The key to creating that unique étouffée flavor is time. A slow simmer is what allows all of the various elements to marry together perfectly. New Orleans cuisine is all about layering of flavor, which is why each component is seasoned and created separately before coming together to be one amazing complete dish. Bon appétit!
Spicy crawfish tails smothered in a rich, buttery Creole sauce over white rice, Crawfish Étouffée is the matriarch of New Orleans cuisine.
Place crawfish in a bowl, season with cajun spices and liquid crab boil, and set aside.
Melt butter in a medium pot.
Shake in flour and stir until it’s the color of peanut butter.
Stir in the vegetables and garlic, and saute.
Add in seafood (or chicken) stock.
Stir, taste and continue to season as you like.
Reduce heat to simmer and cover for 15-20 mins., stirring occasionally.
Add in crawfish and continue to simmer for 10 more minutes.
Serve over white rice.