Shrimp étouffée is a stew that is part of Louisiana Cajun and Creole cuisine. Étouffée is French for “smothered” and the dish basically involves smothering shrimp in a rich, flavorful sauce. A classic étouffée is made with crayfish but shrimp is also typically used for the dish. Some versions of étouffée even use chicken instead of seafood.
For those wondering if shrimp étouffée is the same as shrimp creole, they are similar but different dishes. The main difference between them is that a roux serves as the base for shrimp étouffée while tomatoes often serve as the base for shrimp creole. Shrimp étouffée also has a thicker sauce and is generally spicier than shrimp creole. Both dishes are typically served with rice.
How to Make Shrimp Étouffée
To make shrimp étouffée, you will need shrimp stock. Shrimp stock is usually not sold in stores but you can easily make your own using the shrimp shells and heads from the shrimp for the étouffée. Roughly chop 2 medium onions, 3 stalks of celery, 2 carrots, and 3 cloves of garlic. Add these ingredients to the shrimp along with 3 bay leaves and salt in a large pot. Pour 6 cups of water into the pot, bring it to a boil over high heat on the stove then reduce the heat to medium-low (4 on the stove) and simmer for 25 minutes. Remove the pot from the stove and let the stock cool completely. Strain the stock from the solids using a strainer and discard the solids. The stock can be used right away for the shrimp étouffée and any remaining stock can be stored in the freezer for later use. Clam juice or seafood stock can also be used in place of shrimp stock for the étouffée.
Now, lets turn to making the actual shrimp étouffée. For this, you’ll need 1 cup of the shrimp stock, 1 lb of peeled and deveined shrimp, 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter, ¼ cup of all-purpose flour, an onion, a large green bell pepper, 2 celery stalks, 3 cloves of garlic, 1 can (14.5 ounces) of diced tomatoes, 2 bay leaves, a teaspoon of salt, a teaspoon of cayenne pepper, a tablespoon of Cajun spice mix, ¼ cup of fresh parsley, green onions for garnish (this is optional), and steamed rice for serving. Mince the garlic and finely chop the onion, bell pepper, celery, parsley, and green onions (if using).
Put a medium-sized Dutch oven on the stove on medium heat and melt the butter in the pot. Make a roux by adding flour to the melted butter. Stir the flour and butter mixture continuously until the mixture turns a dark golden brown, this should take about 7-10 minutes. Add the chopped onions, garlic, bell peppers, and celery to the roux. Mix well and cook for 5 minutes on medium heat. Now, add the shrimp stock, tomatoes, salt, cayenne pepper, Cajun spice mix, and bay leaves to the pot. Mix all the ingredients in the pot together and then cover the pot. Lower the heat to low-medium and cook for 30 minutes, occasionally stirring the mixture. After the mixture has cooked for 30 minutes, add the shrimp to the pot, cover the pot and cook for another 5 minutes. Now, add the parsley and cook covered for another 5 minutes and you’re done. Serve with steamed rice (cook the rice according to package directions) and garnish with green onions (if desired). The printable recipe card and some notes that might be helpful are below. Enjoy!
Pots that are made with cast iron like Dutch ovens are best for making roux. If you don’t have a cast iron pot, just use a heavy-bottomed pot.
You can use vegetable oil instead of butter to make the roux as vegetable oil is less likely to burn.
For a spicier shrimp étouffée, add more cayenne pepper. If you don’t like spicy food, omit the cayenne pepper.
For the Shrimp Etouffee
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 medium onion (finely chopped)
- 1 large green bell pepper (finely chopped)
- 2 stalks of celery (finely chopped)
- 3 cloves garlic (minced)
- 14.5 ounce diced tomatoes (canned)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tbsp Cajun spice mix
- 1 cup shrimp stock
- 1 lb of shrimp (peeled and deveined)
- ¼ cup fresh parsley (finely chopped)
- Steamed rice (for serving)
- ¼ cup green onions for garnish (finely chopped; optional)
For the Shrimp Stock
- Shrimp shells and heads
- 2 medium onions (coarsely chopped)
- 3 stalks of celery (coarsely chopped)
- 2 sticks of carrots (coarsely chopped)
- 3 cloves garlic (chopped)
- 3 bay leaves
- 2 tsp salt
For the Shrimp Stock
- Place all the ingredients for the shrimp stock in a large pot. Add 6 cups of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer for about 25 minutes.
- Remove the pot from the heat and let the stock cool. Strain with a strainer.
- The stock can be used right away for the shrimp etouffee.
- The remainder of the stock can be stored in the freezer for later use.
For the Shrimp Etouffee
- In a large Dutch-oven, melt the butter.
- Add the flour to the butter and stir continuously (about 7 minutes) to make a dark brown roux.
- Add the onions, garlic, green bell peppers, and celery to the roux and cook for about 5 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes, bay leaves, salt, cayenne pepper, and Cajun spice mix.
- Add the shrimp stock.
- Cook the stew for about 30 minutes on medium-low heat, stirring occasionally.
- Add the shrimp, cook for another 5 minutes.
- Add the parsley, cook for another 5 minutes
- Serve with steamed rice and garnish with green onions (if desired)