My favorite crawfish dish. In fact, it may be one of my all time favorite dishes. Looks good, too!
Mudbugs, crawdads, crayfish…whatever you want to call them. I sure love crawfish. They are one of my favorite foods. If you have never seen a live crawfish, this is what they look like
Somewhat lobster like, somewhat shrimp like, somewhat prawn like, crawfish are members of the superfamilies Astacoidea and Parastacoidea. They are mostly found in brooks and streams where there is fresh water running, and which have shelter against predators. They are called Mud Bugs because they live in mud, tunnel in mud and create mounds to their nests in mud. They are considered bugs because they are bottom feeders feeding upon living and dead animals and plants. Because of their living environment, if you ever buy fresh, live crawfish make sure you purge the crawfish to remove any mud or grass that collects in them. 😮
Right now, it’s the height of crawfish season. Crawfish season runs from mid-February through June. Crawfish season changes from year to year, and is dependent primarily on water levels in Louisiana’s Atchafalaya River Basin where 90 to 95 % of the annual U.S. crawfish production comes from. Interestingly, but not surprisingly, rice fields and crawfish farms typically operate as one. Regardless, if you love crawfish then this is the season where your living the good life. Crawfish boils are happening and good times are being had at crawfish festivals. Crawfish are such a wonderful, delicate dish despite their somewhat demonic appearance. The only problem I have with crawfish is it takes a lot of them to make a meal. I love them in a crawfish boil and don’t mind peeling and eating them but for dishes such as crawfish étouffée, I generally buy prepackaged, cleaned and frozen crawfish tail meat. You’re obviously losing some flavor but I simply cannot sit down and peel crawfish without eating them, a lot of them. It never fails that I don’t have enough crawfish leftover to make étouffée. 😮 They really are one of my great weaknesses. So, in celebration of crawfish season, we made this dish and it’s wonderful. We hope you give it a try.
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp white pepper
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1/4 cup chopped onions
- 1/4 cup chopped celery
- 1/4 cup chopped red bell peppers
- 1/3 cup oil
- 3/4 cup flour
- 3 cups shrimp stock (if you have fresh crawfish, make crawfish stock)
- 1/2 lb unsalted butter
- 2 lb whole, cooked, and cleaned crawfish
- 1 cup green onions, minced
- white rice, for serving
Always, first thing first, make a brown roux by combining the flour and the oil in a small saucepan.
Place in a 450 F oven and ignore for 1 hour.
Now, you could painstakingly stand over the stove and relentlessly whisk the roux while cooking over low heat so as to brown and not burn the flour. But why would you when you get these results using the oven with little to no risk burning the flour. Look how beautifully brown this roux got.
While the roux is cooking, mix the spices in a small bowl and set aside until needed.
Because of the small amount of oil in the roux, it’s very thick. In fact, it’s too thick to sauté the vegetables. If you want to sauté the vegetables in the roux, then use equal parts flour and oil. Because we did not sauté the vegetables in the roux, we added the roux to the shrimp stock and created the base sauce for the étouffée. So, measure out 3 cups of stock and pour into a sauce pot.
Now, to tighten a sauce, one of the ingredients must be hot and the other must be warm. If both are hot, the sauce will lump. Because the roux was still very hot, we used warm shrimp stock. Add the hot roux to the stock in small quantities whisking constantly.
Cook over medium low heat, stirring constantly so as not to scorch the flour, for 2 – 3 minutes or until the flour taste is gone. When finished you will get a base sauce like this. Remove from heat, cover and set aside.
Now, let’s sauté the veggies. Melt butter in a chef’s pan over low heat.
Add all the veggies but the green onions.
Saute and toss.
Once the onions have become translucent, add the crawfish tails.
Add the green onions
Cook over medium/medium-high heat for 3 minutes to heat the tails through. Now add the base sauce.
and the seasonings.
Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes to heat through and enable the flavors to develop.
To serve Place a mound of rice in the middle of a bowl.
Ladle étouffée around the rice.
For pretties, sprinkle cayenne pepper and crushed, dried parsley around the lip of the bowl.
Serve & enjoy!
NOTES: If you want a little brightness you can add some freshly squeezed lemon either at the time of service or with the base sauce. Also, if you want some more heat add an extra tsp of cayenne pepper. Lastly, some cajuns just can’t live without their hot sauce so make sure you have some Tobasco or Louisiana Hot Sauce on hand.