Thanks for nothing, Emeril!
November 8, 2011 11:08 AM   Subscribe

Does anyone know of a good crawfish or shrimp etoufee recipe?

Recently my wife and I made this crawfish etoufee recipe and were pretty disappointed in it. I think the reason we were disappointed was that it wasn't based on a good cajun roux. The gravy was kind of thin, and the flavor it did have was kind of off. Adding some Old Bay with Blackened seasoning helped a little, but the gravy part was just wrong. I don't want to risk another $15 and 2+ hours unless I have more confidence in the results. Merci beaucoup!
posted by Daddy-O to Food & Drink (12 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
This one.

I think the keys to its success are a more complex spice mixture, a darker roux than Emeril's, and the addition of shrimp stock.

You can make your own perfectly great shrimp stock by simmering down the shrimp hulls (and heads, if you're lucky) from your shrimp in water for about an hour. It's worth it.
posted by TryTheTilapia at 11:46 AM on November 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

I did a brief amount of research and in comparing Emeril's recipe to other etouffee recipes I spotted a couple of differences that I think might be telling. Firstly, it looks like many recipes use more flour than Lagasse calls for. I checked maybe 3 recipes and saw that 3/3 call for 1/4 cup as opposed to the 1 tbsp he is calling for. He also adds it at the end, so I agree that the lack of a real roux is likely the problem. I found an recipe that calls for cooking the flour mixed with the fat for 3 - 4 minutes until you acheive red-brown roux, and I think this has to be the way to go. Link appended below because my html-ifying skills are close to non existent.

also, you could try yelling bam really loudly whilst flailing about with a can of smoked paprika or whatnot. Seems to work for Emeril. :)

Also everything that TryTheTilapia said.
posted by ottergrrl at 11:50 AM on November 8, 2011

Oh, and bacon grease instead of canola oil, if you really want to go for it. Forgot to mention that.
posted by TryTheTilapia at 11:57 AM on November 8, 2011

There's a tomato based style etoufee that I like, and it's pretty quick and simple to make.

Generally, I take anything Emeril makes and immediately discard it as bad. If you didn't grow up in Louisiana, your authority as a Cajun/Creole chef is immediately compromised...

(Disclaimer: I was born and raised in southern Louisiana.)
posted by chrisfromthelc at 12:08 PM on November 8, 2011 [2 favorites]

Here's one of the recipes from Talk About Good, which I've always used as my primary go-to cookbook for things Cajun. Etouffee is generally a simple dish, made with trinity (onions, celery, bell pepper), green onions tops, and fat (TAG has a thing for oleo). I think the problem with Emeril's dish is that there just isn't enough crawfish there. For that much trinity I'd want at least 2-3 pounds.
Also, and I can't state this strongly enough, the source of your crawfish makes a huge difference. I find chinese tails awfully fishy compared to domestic, which to me have a milder, sweeter flavor.
posted by Runes at 3:41 PM on November 8, 2011

Response by poster: I yelled "Whap!" just as I took the pan off the stove, but I think that probably does just as much good as "Bam!" I did, however, neglect to threaten the dish with a jar of spices. I guess I've been operating under the false impression that Emeril is from Lousiana after I walked past his restaurant in NOLA a few months ago. Live and learn. Thanks again everyone!
posted by Daddy-O at 3:57 PM on November 8, 2011

Response by poster: Oh, and Chinese crawfish tail meat doesn't exactly fill me with confidence. If they'll poison their own babies for money, I don't want to find out what they'll do to me. I will only use gulf shrimp from now on unless I can find some better crawfish. Farm raised shrimp just doesn't taste as good to me.
posted by Daddy-O at 4:07 PM on November 8, 2011

Emeril gets grief for being from Fall River, MA, but seriously you don't get to be executive chef of Commander's Palace without having some local-cuisine chops. His recipe isn't that far from the norm. Domestic tails tend to be whiter, chinese tails more orange. Pricewise, domestic can be twice the price of the imported.
posted by Runes at 4:33 PM on November 8, 2011

@runes: Commanders Palace long ago left "local-cuisine" behind to cater to tourists; it's the Olive Garden of "Cajun" food. If you actually go to NOLA and ask a local "I'd like some really authentic etoufee! How about Commanders Palace?", you'll get a condescending chuckle and they'll take you to any one of a hundred better places. If you're really that star-struck, go to K-Paul's...Prudhomme makes vastly better food, is an actual native who deeply cares about the cuisine, and he actually shows up at the restaurant.

Emeril knows how to run a very busy kitchen in a huge restaurant where pacing & production is more important than quality. This is done by reducing those "local" dishes to their most easily recreated, most consistent even if bland lowest common denominator. That's why he got to be the executive chef, and he gets grief for being a carpetbagger because he is one; he and Larry the Cable Guy are a tossup for the "most embarrassing fake Southerner".

Lately, I've been to two of his "Emeril" restaurants in two different cities. Same schtick. Identical, overpriced, mediocre faux "Cajun" food. There's a reason the one in Atlanta closed...there are 4-5 undeniably superior restaurants within walking distance.
posted by kjs3 at 5:24 PM on November 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

Though my home state of Mississippi is not exactly cajun country, it's close enough to count. I've made my fair share of etoufee and I would highly recommend reading nearly every word of The Creole and Cajun Recipe Page. The info there should give you a good enough starting point to make a decent etoufee. Happy cooking & eating.
posted by sugarbiscuit at 6:56 PM on November 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Lots of great stuff here, I'll be cooking up a storm soon. Thanks to all.
posted by Daddy-O at 8:58 AM on November 10, 2011

Response by poster: Update: We made the Saveur recipe TryTheTilapia recommended and it was delicious. I boiled the shrimp hulls in chicken broth for extra goodness.
posted by Daddy-O at 1:50 PM on January 18, 2012

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