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If you're a seafood lover, you need this shrimp étouffée recipe in your arsenal. It isn't the quickest recipe -- but it's fun. And easy. Think of it as one of those recipes you save for when you really want to impress dinner guests. With all the fresh veggies and variety of spices, they'll think you're a longtime chef with a sophisticated palate. Serve it over rice or dunk warm slices of bread in the thick, savory sauce. Adapted from Scott Hargrove, Emeril Lagasse and Paula Deen, this versatile étouffée can be made with either shrimp or crawfish. Use a bit more or less flour for thicker or thinner sauce. Add a dash extra Tabasco and cayenne to amp the spiciness level; or if you like, nix it entirely.
Serves: 6 Prep/cook time: 45 minutes Simmering time: 30 minutes
Ingredients: 2 pounds shrimp, shell/head on 1 quart plus 1 cup water 1 medium onion 4 celery stalks 2 green bell peppers 6 garlic cloves 1 stick butter 3/4 cup flour 1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes 2 bay leaves 2 teaspoons smoked paprika 2 teaspoons salt 1 teaspoon black pepper 1 teaspoon garlic powder 1/2 teaspoon onion powder 1/2 teaspoon oregano 1/2 teaspoon thyme 1/4 teaspoon cayenne (1/2 teaspoon for medium spiciness) 2-3 dashes Tabasco sauce (optional) 3 scallions, chopped
1. Make a quick shrimp stock: Peel and de-vein the shrimp, and set aside. Place the shells, heads and tails in a 3-quart saucepan. Add 1 quart plus 1 cup water over low heat. Let simmer for 45 minutes.
2. Do some chopping: Meanwhile, chop the onions, celery and bell peppers into a small dice, about 1/4-inch chunks. Mince the garlic. (This might take 20-25 minutes.)
3. Make a roux: Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. (To help prevent burning, start with a room temperature pot, add the butter, then turn on the stove.) Add the flour and stir continuously to make a roux. Stir the roux over medium heat until it smells nutty and is light brown, about 7 minutes.
4. Add the onions, bell peppers, and celery to the roux, and cook, stirring often until slightly softened, about 5 minutes.
5. Add the garlic and canned tomatoes and stir in the bay leaves and herbs/seasonings (e.g. smoked paprika, salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, thyme, cayenne pepper and Tabasco sauce). Cook the mixture for 3 minutes.
6. By now, the shrimp stock should be done. Strain out the shells and pour all the liquid into the pot. Stir well.
7. Bring the mixture to a boil, and reduce to a simmer. Stir occasionally, for about 30 minutes.
8. Add shrimp, stirring to evenly distribute. Cook the shrimp until done, about 3-5 minutes (when the gray turns pinkish orange). Season sauce to taste. Serve over rice; garnish with scallions.
My Notes How I got the recipe: A good friend of mine forwarded me Scott Hargrove's recipe and I took it upon myself to sift through various other étouffée recipes, in particular, the ones from Emeril Lagasse and Paula Deen. I stuck mainly with Hargrove's recipe but also used Lagasse's Creole seasoning and took into account Deen's tips regarding spiciness and cook time for the shrimps. Lagasse's Creole seasoning is a must; it packs a nice Cajun kick, what with the paprika, garlic powder and herbs.
Can I use oil instead of butter? Yes! Paula Deen's recipe calls for 1/2 cup of oil rather than the stick of butter because butter burns more easily. To ensure you melt it properly, start with the pot at room temperature, add the butter, then heat the pot.
How to de-vein shrimp: Gently but quickly rip off the shrimp heads; they should come off easily. Take a pair of kitchen scissors and snip a small slit across the back of the un-peeled shrimp, inserting the blade about 1/3 of the way through. Peel off the shell and legs. From here, wipe off the intestinal tract, or what looks like black thread.
Depending on who you are, when faced with a pound of raw shrimp, you either roll up your sleeves, get peeling and whip up your favorite recipe, or you cringe and tentatively poke the cold, gray bag. If you fall in the latter category, fear no more -- though this dish has several ingredients, it's easy to make and it's foolproof. And if you already have your own go-to shrimp prep steps, give this recipe a whirl. It's savory, saucy and has hints of Cajun flavor.
Serves: About 6-8 Prep time: 25 minutes Cook time: 7 minutes
Ingredients: 1 pound raw shrimp, peeled and de-veined 1/2 stick of butter (or 4 tablespoons) 1-2 tablespoons minced or crushed garlic 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce 1 tablespoon basil 1 teaspoon oregano 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional) salt and pepper, to taste
1. Melt the butter in a skillet on medium-low heat. Add garlic and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Increase heat to medium and add the peeled and de-veined shrimp. Stir.
2. After about 2 minutes, add the Worcestershire sauce, oregano, basil, cayenne pepper and a dash more salt and pepper. Keep stirring and turning shrimp until they curl and turn slightly pink. (Hint: Cook until you don't see any more gray).
My Notes: Changing the proportions: My favorite thing about this recipe is that while the flavors are sophisticated, cooking is a snap because you don't have to measure out each ingredient. Does the shrimp look a little dry? Add a dash more Worcestershire. Not seeing enough flecks of herbs? Toss in another pinch of oregano and basil. Not enough heat? Of course, sprinkle a bit more cayenne pepper.
How to de-vein shrimp: Some chefs would say de-veining is an absolute necessity; the cooked shrimp looks fuller, curlier and neater. And after all, it is cleaner; eating poop isn't necessarily on everyone's to-do list. Others shrug off the practice and prefer the shrimp in their natural state. In order to properly de-vein, take a small knife and cut a small slit across the back of the shrimp, inserting your blade about 1/3 of the way through. From here, wipe off the intestinal tract, or what looks like black thread.