From ordinary to an extraordinary dish, this shrimp étouffée recipe is easy to make and transforms into a beautiful candlelight dinner when served with your favorite wine, for a romantic date night.
Étouffée is a French word that translates as smothered, and this speaks to the mode of preparation used to make this dish.
Smothering is a popular method of cooking in Louisiana, and it is no surprise that it is used to make this dish, seeing as etouffee originates from the area.
This fancy word dish, Shrimp Etouffee, is a meal that involved simmered shrimp in a sauce thickened with white or blond roux.
The blond roux is made by constantly stirring the mixture during preparation to remove the raw flavor of the flour and add a nutty flavor to the mixture.
A dish that originated from Louisiana, the Shrimp Etouffee has different versions. The most popular versions include the Creole version and the Cajun version.
For the creole version, the roux used to make the sauce is dark brown and usually features the inclusion of tomatoes.
The Cajun version uses a white roux instead of a dark brown roux.
History of Shrimp Étouffée
The Etouffee started among the Cajuns in the backwaters and bayou of Louisiana. The original dish didn’t feature the use of shrimp but rather crawfish.
The introduction of shrimp and other seafood into the Etouffee came with the evolution and increasing popularity of the dish itself.
The first documented preparation and serving of the Etouffee occurred in the 1920s when Mrs. Hebert and her two daughters Marie and Yoli, who ran the Hebert Hotel, prepared the crawfish etouffee with crawfish fats, pepper, onions, and crawfish tails.
The recipe was later shared with the family friend of the Heberts, Aline Champagne.
From Aline, the recipe spread around the bayou and backwaters, and soon, the crawfish etouffee became a dish popular in the area.
There is also another version of the story that says that the first servings of the crawfish etouffee happened in Breaux Bridge in Louisiana.
The food, however, didn’t become a commercial hit in New Orleans until 1983. At this time, the French-Creole cuisine, similar to Haitian cuisine, was the major menu in restaurants in New Orleans.
A waiter at Galatoire’s, a popular restaurant on Bourbon Street brought the dish to his boss to try and the boss liked it.
From there, Galatoire’s included the food in its menu and the popularity of the crawfish etouffee spread from there.
Ingredients Used To Make Shrimp Étouffée Recipe
Roux For Étouffée
Roux is the major ingredient that goes into the preparation of the Shrimp Etouffee, regardless of the type of etouffee it is.
The type of roux used determines the difference between the creole and Cajun Shrimp Etouffee.
Roux is commonly used to thicken sauces, soups, and stews, and is also the base sauce for three out of the five mother sauces in French cuisine.
The roux is made by mixing fat and flour in equal portions or almost equal portions. The flour is melted in oil or fat and is allowed to cook to the level of brownness required.
For instance, the creole etouffee uses a dark brown roux. This means that the flour is allowed to cook for a long period, say about 30 minutes before you can use it to make the étouffée.
For the Cajun etouffee, you need the blond or white roux, and this means that the flour is constantly stirred as it cooks in the fat for about 5 minutes.
Be mindful, based on the ingredients that are used, the flour will also change color. More information is provided below.
The fats used to make roux exists in different forms. Therefore, you can use either lard, butter, bacon grease, or oil to make the roux.
Unclarified butter provides the best type of roux while oil is the least preferred fat option for making the roux.
Shrimps are only important for the etouffee if you are making a shrimp etouffee. Otherwise, you can use any other type of seafood to make your etouffee.
However, it is important to ensure that the shrimps used for your Shrimp Etouffee are deveined and peeled.
The holy trinity of bell pepper, onions, and celery must find their way into almost all dishes made in Louisiana and the Shrimp Etouffee is not different.
Substitutions and Variations
The two most important items in the Shrimp Etouffee; roux and shrimps can be subbed out for other options.
The roux, depending on the type you want, can be subbed out for another type of roux. For instance, you can replace the dark brown roux with a blond or white roux ad still have your shrimp etouffee.
You can also take out shrimps and replace them with any other type of seafood such as crawfish, shellfish, or crabs.
You can also use chicken in place of seafood when making your etouffee. But of course, once you use any of these aforementioned options, it ceases to be shrimp etouffee and becomes another dish entirely.
How to Pair the Shrimp Etouffee
You can enjoy the Shrimp étouffée over a bowl of rice, be it brown or white rice. But if you are watching your weight or carbs intake, you can combine the sauce with riced cauliflower.
You can also serve this meal with southern red beans and rice, and many natives of the south will find this combination tasty.
How To Store Your Etouffee
You can store the Shrimp Etouffee in a refrigerator or a freezer. To use a refrigerator, ensure that the shrimp etouffee is stored in an airtight container.
This way, the shrimp etouffee can stay fresh for about three days.
With the freezer option, you will also need an airtight container.
However, the difference between the refrigerator option and the freezer option is that the shrimp etouffee in the freezer gets to stay fresh and edible for longer periods than when refrigerated.
You can also reheat the shrimp étouffée after refrigerating or freezing (thawing).
All you have to do is ensure that you reheat the entire dish on a stovetop or microwave.
Regardless of the reheating option, the entire dish must be warm all the way through by the time you are done reheating.
How to Make Shrimp Étouffée
This dish requires patience. But the time and effort put in preparing this dish worth it. It serves well on a busy weeknight meal, or as a date night.
Start by prepping the ingredients: Chop, slice or dice the vegetables – onions, celery, green onions, garlic cloves, tomatoes, and pepper. All of which are needed and will make the roux even richer. Sit them aside when complete.
Prepare the herbs: Prepare a bouquet garni by combining the parsley, basil leaves, and bay leaves together. Tie the herbs together so they do not float uncontrollably while cooking. This will also help you to remove them when you are ready to serve. Sit the bouquet garni aside.
Next, cook the shrimp: It is best to use deveined shrimp and those with no shells. Lightly season the shrimp with salt and Cajun seasoning. Mix well and set aside for about 15 minutes.
In a large saucepan that’s about 3 litters and suitable to feed between 5-7 people, add the oil to the pan over medium-high heat. When heated, add the shrimp in batches.
Cook the shrimp just until pink. Do not overcook the shrimp, as you do not want it to be tough. Cooking in just until pink will allow you to have more control as it cooks more later.
When the shrimp is done, remove the shrimp and set it aside. Repeat the next batch(es).
In the same saucepan, make the roux: Add the 2 Tbsp. of oil and the butter to the saucepan, then add the chopped/diced vegetables. Stir constantly and cook for about 5 minutes.
Then add the tomato paste. Stir well to combined.
Continue cooking for an additional 2 minutes. Then add the flour. Reduce the heat to medium. Mix well to combine. Deglaze with 1 cup of water.
Mix well, the mixture will thicken. While stirring, add 1 cup of water. Stir, and continue to add the remaining water until you have used all 4 cups of water.
Season with 1 teaspoon of salt, and 2 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce, Cajun seasoning, black pepper, and add in the bouquet Garni. Mix well.
Then add the shrimp. Stir to combine. Cover with lid.
Simmer for 10 minutes on medium low heat. Serve over cooked white rice and enjoy.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
To etouffee something it means to “smother” an ingredient. Normally the it includes the Holy Trinity (onion, celery, and bell pepper). It is also prepared with a dark roux.
The main difference between shrimp creole and shrimp étouffée is that shrimp étouffée, has a reddish-brown thick sauce or gravy, whereas the sauce for shrimp creole is thinner and lighter.
The main difference Gumbo and etouffee is that gumbo includes okra and often file powder, whereas etouffee does not. Gumbo includes various meats, étouffée is usually prepared with shrimp or crawfish.
Etouffee, means “smothered” in French, is a stew or gravy that’s prepared as a roux, and of course include the Holy Trinity (onion, celery, and bell pepper). It is prepared with either shrimp or crawfish.
No. Etouffee do not include tomatoes. However, some recipes, like in this recipe, tomatoes are added to further enhance the flavor of the dish. But tomatoes can be left out.
Absolutely. Yes, you can freeze etouffee. Freezing the etouffee will allow you the opportunity to enjoy it later in the future. Be sure to use a freezer safe container. Allow the dish to cool completely before freezing.
No, okra is not an ingredient that’s added to etouffee. However, depending on the cook’s preference okra may be added, by doing so, your dish will take the form of Gumbo instead of étouffée.
- Instead of using olive oil, we recommend using canola oil. Olive oil burns faster. The canola oil will ensure that you get the best result.
- When making the roux, it is recommended that you stir constantly to avoid lumps and the ingredients sticking to the bottom of the pan.
- Do not overcook the shrimp. When searing the shrimp, be sure to remove it from the pan when it just turns pink. Overcooking the shrimp will make the shrimp tough. We also recommend you use either umbo shrimp or colossal shrimp as they will reduce in size.
- Add green onion and parsley last, just before removing the dish do not skip the bouquet garni. It does make a difference in the depth of flavor in the dish.
More Soups & Stews To Enjoy
If you loved this Shrimp etouffee recipe, we recommend trying this keto gumbo recipe next. We also recommend trying one of these soups and stews as well.
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Shrimp Étouffée Recipe
- 2 lbs. Shrimp devein; tail off
- ¼ Cup Canola Oil Divided
- ⅓ Cup All Purpose Flour
- 1 Yellow Onion Chopped
- 1 Bell Pepper Any color, chopped
- 2 Celery Sticks Sliced
- 4 Garlic Cloves Chopped
- 1 Tbsp. Cajun Seasoning For the shrimp
- 3 tsp. Cajun Seasoning For the roux; more if needed (to taste)
- 2 Tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce
- 4 Cups Water
- ½ tsp. Black Pepper
- 1 tsp. Kosher Salt
- Flat Parsley About 5 sprigs
- 3-5 Fresh Basil Leaves
- ¼ Cup Unsalted Butter
- 2 Green Onions
- 1 Tbsp. Tomato Paste
- 2 Sunset Tomatoes Or Roma Tomatoes; chopped and seeds removed
- White Rice For Serving
- Start by prepping the ingredients: Chop, slice or dice the vegetables – onions, celery, green onions, garlic cloves, tomatoes, and pepper. Sit the ingredients aside.Prepare the herbs: Prepare a Bouquet Garni by combining the parsley, basil leaves, and bay leaves together. Tie the herbs together so they do not float uncontrollably while cooking. Sit the Bouquet Garni aside.Next, cook the shrimp: Lightly season the shrimp with salt and Cajun seasoning. Mix well and set aside for about 15 minutes.In a large saucepan (about 3 litters and suitable to feed between 5-7 people), add the oil (2 Tbsp) to the pan over medium-high heat. When heated, add the shrimp in batches.Cook the shrimp just until pink. Do not overcook the shrimp, as you do not want it to be tough. Cooking in just until pink will allow you to have more control as it cooks more later. When the shrimp is done cooking, remove the shrimp and set it aside. Repeat the next batch(es).
- In the same saucepan, make the roux: Add the 2 Tbsp. of oil and the butter to the saucepan, then add the chopped/diced vegetables. Stir constantly and cook for about 5 minutes.Then add the tomato paste. Stir well to combined. Continue cooking for an additional 2 minutes. Then add the flour. Reduce the heat to medium. Mix well to combine. Deglaze with 1 cup of water.Mix well. The mixture will thicken. While stirring, add 1 more cup of water slowly. Stir, and continue to add the remaining water until you have used all 4 cups of water.Season the roux with 1 teaspoon of salt, 2 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce, 3 Tsp. Cajun seasoning, black pepper, and add in the Bouquet Garni. Mix well.Then add the shrimp. Stir to combine. Cover with lid. Simmer for 10 minutes on medium low heat. Serve over cooked white rice and enjoy.