Growing up in Houston, Cajun food has long been a staple of my diet. Gumbo, po'boys, boudain, red beans and rice, crawfish -- you name it. I love it all. And, of course, who could forget about shrimp etouffee? Just the thought of a big bowl of shrimp etouffee over fluffy rice makes me smile.
Naturally, when my latest shrimp etouffee craving hit, I happily decided to make a batch. At the same time, I want to take advantage of summer cooking while it’s still in season. That’s when it hit me. Why not make a shrimp etouffee filled with farm-fresh ingredients? A summer shrimp etouffee if you will. Yep, sounds good to me.
For a fun summer spin, this shrimp etouffee includes fresh corn, heirloom tomatoes, basil and freshly squeezed lemon juice. So let's start cooking.
To begin, you need to make a roux, which is simply whisking equal parts melted butter and flour until the mixture is close to the color of peanut butter or a light caramel. This shouldn't take too long -- under 10 minutes -- but don't get lazy and move on before the magic happens. The roux is the flavor foundation of a good etouffee, so you don't want to skimp on this step.
Once the roux is good and ready, add the fresh corn and Cajun food's famous Holy Trinity: green bell peppers, celery and onion. Cook those veggies for about 10 minutes and then add plenty of white wine to the pot for good measure. I like using a pinot grigio or sauvignon blanc for this recipe. After the wine cooks down, stir in some seafood stock, preferably my homemade recipe, and two cups of diced heirloom tomatoes and be sure to include that delicious tomato juice.
At this point, I also add a couple bay leaves, a few dashes of hot sauce and Cajun seasoning. When cooking Cajun food, I'm partial to Louisiana Hot Sauce, which I included in a link below. This hot sauce adds some heat with a vinegary tang, which I love, but you can use whatever you like.
For the Cajun seasoning, you can use your favorite store-bought brand or make your own. I prefer to make my own, so the recipe is included below. The seasoning blend only takes a few minutes to prepare, and you'll have plenty of leftover for other fun meals. Grilled and blackened meats are delicious with this Cajun seasoning, and it's even great to sprinkle on pizza.
After the mixture simmers for about 45 to 50 minutes, add the shrimp and cook just until pink. Turn off the heat and stir in the fresh parsley, basil and lemon juice. Spoon a big ladle of etouffee over white rice and you're ready to eat.
You can certainly reach for the pinot grigio or sauvignon blanc you used to cook this recipe. For a dish with a heavy tomato presence, both are good choices. If you'd like to get crazy and mix things up, a Chianti is another good option, especially when the tomatoes are cooked. A good Chianti delivers that snappy acidity but also has the body to stand up to the thick stew.
I also like a biere de garde with this summer shrimp etouffee. Bière de garde is a French-style farmhouse ale with a strong malt presence. The malty sweetness matches well with the corn and tomatoes while contrasting with the Cajun spices.
I hope you take advantage of these final summer weeks with a big batch of summer shrimp etouffee. This recipe is the perfect way to use that fresh summer produce, and I'm sure you'll love it as much as I do.
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Summer Shrimp Etouffee
- 8 tablespoons butter
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup chopped onions
- 2 green bell peppers chopped
- 3 celery ribs chopped
- 2 corn ears kernels removed
- 4 garlic cloves grated or minced
- 1 cup dry white wine such as pinot grigio or sauvignon blanc
- 2 cups heirloom tomatoes diced with juice
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning homemade or store-bought
- Few dashes of hot sauce
- 4 cups seafood stock homemade or store-bought (see notes)
- 2 pounds medium shrimp peeled and deveined
- ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
- ¼ cup chopped fresh basil
- ½ lemon juiced
- Salt to taste
- Rice for serving
- Melt butter in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Whisk in flour and continuously whisk for about seven minutes. The roux should take on the color of peanut butter.
- Stir in the onions, bell peppers, celery, corn and garlic and cook for 10 minutes. Stir frequently.
- Pour in white wine and cook until mostly evaporated. Stir in the heirloom tomatoes, bay leaves, Cajun seasoning and seafood stock.
- Turn up the heat to medium-high to bring to a boil. Then, reduce heat and simmer. Stir every so often and cook for 45-50 minutes.
- Add shrimp and cook just until the turn pink. As soon as they cook, turn off the heat. You don't want the shrimp to overcook. Stir in parsley, basil and lemon juice. Taste and add salt if necessary but don't feel obligated. Serve over fluffy white rice. Enjoy!
- I definitely recommend using a seafood stock as opposed to substituting chicken stock. Seafood stock adds such a different flavor than chicken stock, so the result won't be the same. My homemade seafood stock is a delicious option and my preferred ingredient, but if you need to use a store-bought version, I'd go with Better Than Bouillon Lobster Base or More Than Gourmet Classic Seafood Stock.