International Recipes and Cooking Around the World

Shrimp Etouffee

Bowl of shrimp etouffee

(American Cajun-Creole smothered shrimp)

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French for “smothered,” etouffee (or étouffée) is one of the great dishes of southern Louisianan cuisine. Shrimp or crawfish are braised in a full-flavored gravy and served over rice.

Recipes vary widely by region and family. Some etouffees have dark roux, some light roux, some no roux at all. Many recipes call for tomatoes. Others leave them out. Use this recipe as a foundation and personalize it to your taste.

4 to 6 servings


  • Butter or oil -- 4 tablespoons
  • All-purpose flour -- 1/4 cup
  • Onions, finely chopped -- 1 1/2
  • Green peppers, finely chopped -- 2
  • Celery, finely chopped -- 3 stalks
  • Garlic, minced -- 3 or 4 cloves
  • Tomatoes, chopped -- 2 cups
  • Chicken or seafood stock -- 2 cups
  • Parsley, finely chopped -- 1/4 cup
  • Thyme -- 2 teaspoons
  • Bay leaf -- 1
  • Cayenne pepper -- pinch
  • Salt and pepper -- to season
  • Shrimp, peeled and deveined -- 2 pounds
  • Scallions, chopped -- 3


  1. Add the butter or oil to a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium flame. Whisk in the flour to make a roux that has the consistency of wet sand. Reduce heat to medium low and let the roux cook gently, stirring occasionally, until it takes on a lightly toasted aroma and has the color of peanut butter, anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes.
  2. Add the chopped onions, peppers and celery, stirring well the keep the roux from getting lumpy. Increase heat to medium and saute the vegetables, stirring often, until they are cooked down, about 10 minutes.
  3. Stir in the tomatoes, stock, herbs, peppers and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about 30 minutes.
  4. Stir in the shrimp and simmer for another 5 minutes or so until the shrimp is just cooked through.
  5. Serve over rice and garnish with chopped scallions. Make sure to have plenty of Crystal or Tabasco hot pepper sauce on hand.

Etouffee Variations

  • Crawfish etouffee: Substitute 1 1/2 pounds of fresh crawfish tails for the shrimp. Or try using half shrimp and half crawfish.
  • Seafood stock: Make your own simple seafood stock with the shrimp shells. Put the shells and 3 cups of water in a saucepan and simmer for about 30 minutes. Strain, discard the shells and use the stock in the recipe. To give it more flavor, add a wedge of onion, a piece of celery, a slice of lemon, a bay leaf and a pinch of thyme.


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