Crawfish Étouffée, full of tender seafood bites smothered in a spicy Cajun tomato based sauce and served over rice, is Southern comfort food at it's best!
This New Orleans classic can easily be made at home with this quick and easy recipe. I love to make a big batch and freeze it for when I crave spicy cajun food!
Why this recipe works:
Crawfish Étouffée satisfies all of my cravings.
The flavor is intense and the combination of the succulent crawfish, or langostino, paired with the creamy tomato based sauce is heaven to my taste buds. My recipe has just the right amount of spice too.
This recipe is definitely a keeper and a repeat performer in our house.
How do you make it?
- I like to make this recipe in my cast iron dutch oven on the stove top. I start by melting my butter to saute the holy trinity of vegetables until they are slightly soft. At that point I add my Cajun seasoning mix and flour and cook for a few minutes to form a roux.
- Next you'll stir in your tomatoes and cook until the tomato juices begin to brown on the bottom of the pan. This step only takes a few minutes.
- Whisking in chicken broth at this point loosens everything stuck to the bottom of the pan and forms a wonderful sauce with the thickness of a homemade gravy. This mixture is then simmered only a few minutes. At this point, I like to add some Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce.
- Finally, I stir in the crawfish, or langostino. I use them interchangeably. I'm sure some die hards would be infuriated, but it's what I do.
Can you use shrimp instead?
Shrimp étouffée is made the exact same way as my crawfish étouffée recipe here, except you swap out the shrimp for crawfish.
If you're starting with cooked shrimp, you only need to heat them in the sauce until they are heated through. If you're starting with raw shrimp, you're going to want to cook them in the sauce until they are pink and fully cooked through. This should only take a few minutes.
What is an étouffée sauce?
Simply put, etouffee is a dish found in both Cajun and Creole cuisine, where shellfish cooked in a flavorful sauce is served by smothering rice. As you might imagine, etouffee is popular in the New Orleans and surrounding areas.
The sauce generally starts with a light roux of flour and butter along with the "holy trinity" of Cajun vegetables which are onion, celery, and green pepper. You'll find this flavor combination in tons of Cajun dishes.
Sometimes tomatoes are added, which is exactly what I did for this recipe.
The word étouffée is influenced by the word étouffer which means to smother. Also, estuver in French translates to the word stew.
Etouffée is basically defined as a Cajun stew that smothers rice.
The more you know...
What is the difference between étouffée and gumbo and jambalaya?
Oh my god! They are all so similar! What on earth is the difference, anyway?
Let me try to break it down for you, as I am just now figuring out the subtle differences myself.
All three are considered Cajun main dishes. The all use that holy trinity of vegetables: onion, celery, and bell pepper. Here are the few details that I think makes them different:
- Jambalaya is a dish that consists of meat, vegetables, and rice. It's all cooked together to form one cohesive dish.
- Gumbo is a mixture of meat and/or shellfish with vegetables in a thickened stock that's served alongside rice. Gumbo, however, more closely resembles a soup than a gravy.
- Etouffée is one type of shellfish that is mixed with a sauce that closely resembles a gravy and that mixture smothers rice.
Creole vs. Cajun food
Total disclosure: I had absolutely no idea how to answer this question so I started to do a little investigating.
According to Louisiana Travel, Creole cuisine uses tomatoes and proper Cajun food does not.
Cajun and Creole are two distinct cultures, and while over the years they continue to blend, there is still a vast distinction in Louisiana, and both have their own unique stories. A vastly simplified way to describe the two cuisines is to deem Creole cuisine as “city food” while Cajun cuisine is often referred to as “country food.”
Have you ever been to Louisiana? It's on my culinary wish list as far as destinations go. I would love to hear about your experiences and things you ate in the comments below!
CLICK TO PLAY RECIPE VIDEO
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup diced onion
- ½ cup diced green bell pepper
- ½ cup chopped celery
- 1 tablespoon Cajun Spice Seasoning
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- ½ cup diced tomatoes
- 2 cups chicken stock
- ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 dash hot sauce (Tobasco)
- 12 ounces cooked crawfish (or substitute with langostino)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup sliced green onions
- cooked medium or long grain white rice (for serving)
- Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat until butter begins to turn tan at the edges. Saute onion, celery, and green pepper in hot butter until softened, about 5 minutes. Add cajun seasoning and stir to combine.
- Sprinkle flour into vegetable mixture and saute until combined, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in tomatoes; cook until tomato juices begin to brown on bottom of pan, about 3 minutes. Whisk chicken broth into vegetable mixture, stirring until smooth. Bring to a simmer and cook until slightly thickened and reduced to a gravy consistency, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce.
- Stir crawfish (or langostino) into etouffee sauce. Season with salt to taste.
- Serve over rice and garnish with green onions.