The word étouffée is French for “smothered” or “suffocated”, which makes perfect sense, since the shrimp and vegetables are smothered in a thick spiced roux-based sauce. The stew is typically served over rice. Those familiar with gumbo will find this similar, but étouffée is richer and made with a blonde roux instead of a dark roux. The blonde roux is light in colour because it is cooked for a shorter time. The Creole version of this dish is sometimes made with cream instead of roux. Other variations of the sauce call for an onion base or tomato base instead of the roux, which is a mix of flour and butter.

Étouffée is not a difficult dish to prepare, but it does need time and patience, as the ingredients have to be added one or two at a time while cooking on a low flame in between each addition. The recipe below shows you how to make a great shrimp étouffée.

John la Fleur II


What you will need

  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 pint roux
  • 1 to 2 lbs fresh peeled gulf shrimp
  • 1 tbsp chopped garlic
  • 1 chopped yellow or red onion
  • 2 cups whole tomatoes (strained)
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 chopped bell pepper
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 1 clove
  • 1 tsp tarragon
  • 1 tsp sage
  • 1 tbsp cayenne
  • ½ tsp mustard seed
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 cups cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 cup fresh parsley
  • 2 cups fresh basil

Now get cooking

  1. Heat the olive oil and add roux in a large black skillet.
  2. Sauté the garlic, onion, and tomatoes. Sprinkle the sugar to caramelize.
  3. Add the bell pepper and cook over high heat for about 20 minutes.
  4. Add salt and pepper. Add 1 quart of water and bring to the boil.
  5. Add the shrimp, tomato sauce, clove, tarragon, sage, cayenne, mustard seed, and bay leaves and blend thoroughly.
  6. Lower the heat to medium after 20 minutes.
  7. Add the cream of mushroom soup.
  8. Chop fresh parsley and basil over the shrimp sauce while still on the stove top and simmer. (If sauce is too thick, add 1 cup hot water.
  9. Place the étouffée over a traditional bed of white or saffron rice.
  10. Prepare a spinach salad with pineapple, coconut flakes, and cherries. Serve with your favourite white wine or Champagne.
  11. A simple vanilla sorbet with fresh pineapple for dessert will add a proper finish to your evening dining pleasure.