I’m of the opinion that any dish named using its French term immediately sounds 1,000 times fancier.
Souffles (puffed up egg dishes) and fondue sovoyarde (cheese dip) and crème brulee (custard topped with burnt sugar) all sound infinitely luxurious. Even foie gras (duck liver pate) almost sounds appetizing.
Shrimp etouffee is another of those dishes. “Etouffee” just means “smothered” in French, but having never tried it, I was sure it was way too complicated to create in my own kitchen.
It turns out I was very wrong about that, and not only is shrimp etouffee relatively simple to create, it’s delicious, too.
The recipe I used comes from the blog “Chili Pepper Madness” by Mike Hultquist. You can find the original post at https://www.chilipeppermadness.com/recipes/shrimp-etouffee/. I added extra veggies, garlic and seasoning in my version.
1 pound shrimp, shelled (keep shells for stock)
5 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil, divided
3 tablespoons flour
2 green bell peppers, diced (keep scraps for stock)
1 medium-sized yellow onion, diced (keep scraps for stock)
4 stalks celery, diced (keep scraps for stock)
4 to 6 cloves garlic, minced
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
15 ounces diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons, plus 1 teaspoon Creole or Cajun seasoning, divided
1 tablespoon Worcestershire
1 tablespoon of your favorite hot sauce (I used Chipotle Tabasco)
1 teaspoon thyme
salt and pepper, to taste
Cooked white rice, for serving
Heat one tablespoon of oil in a pot over medium heat. Start by prepping your shrimp and vegetables. Toss all vegetable scraps, along with the shrimp shells into the oil. Cook the shells and scraps for about five minutes, stirring regularly, until the vegetable scraps are softened. Add the chicken stock to the pot and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer for 20 minutes. Strain the solids out of the stock and set the stock aside while you make the sauce.
In a stock pot or Dutch oven, heat three tablespoons oil over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the flour and stir to create a paste. Continue stirring constantly for about 10 minutes or until the roux reaches a light brown color. (Don’t let the roux burn. If it does, discard it and start over.)
Add the diced peppers, onion and celery. Cook for about five minutes or until the vegetables are starting to soften.
Add the tomatoes, along with their juices, and the garlic and saute for another minute.
Stir in the stock you made earlier, making sure to break up any clumps of flour. Once everything is mixed well, stir in two tablespoons Creole seasoning, Worcestershire, hot sauce, thyme and salt and pepper.
Let the mixture simmer for at least 20 minutes before serving, regularly stirring to keep anything from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
While the sauce simmers, heat one tablespoon of oil in a skillet. Season the shrimp with one teaspoon of the Creole seasoning, and saute them in the hot oil, one or two minutes per side, until they are cooked through.
Serve the sauce over the rice and top with shrimp.
We absolutely loved this. I was a little nervous about making shrimp stock, but it was super easy, and it added a ton of flavor to the overall dish. It was also good and spicy. If you’re not much of a spice fan, you might decrease the Creole seasoning when you make it, but we thought it had exactly the right amount of heat. I also used chicken stock to make the rice to go with this, and I think that added even more depth of flavor.
And in addition to making something delicious, I have enjoyed mentioning to people that I made such a fancy-sounding meal. I might have to give some more French dishes a try…minus the duck livers.
Spice Up Your Life is a weekly recipe column by Lindsey Young, who describes herself as an enthusiastic amateur cook and can be reached through her website at spiceupkitchen.net.