Monday, August 22, 2011

Crawfish Etouffee Recipe - Cajun Cuisine Diary, 2 VIDEOS

Cooking rice at eight years old? That's how Chef Tony Matassa started his culinary career in his parents' Louisiana Italian restaurant. Don't worry, he wasn't exploited - this was his natural calling from the beginning. After  cheffing since childhood, he's now the spokesman (and makes videos with cooking tips - his YouTube channel is here.) for BBQGUYS.com (link here.)

During my Louisiana vacation, I got to visit my nieces Maranda and Candyse. That's when I met Chef Tony for the first time - he is Candyse's boyfriend. Hanging out, we went though Chef  Tony's vast culinary repertoire looking for recipes worthy of shooting, finally narrowing it down to a Cajun classic: Crawfish Etouffee. So for this cooking video, I'm stepping aside and letting a Cajun cuisine expert take over!

Candyse, Tony and the Chintzy Chef

A Louisiana Etouffee has a tomato and vegetable base -- it's like a thicker pasta sauce that is served over rice and can be made with any seafood and meat. I thought it would be fun to use the local delicacy, crawfish. (In an earlier video I showed you where locals get them, and how to eat one. Click here to refresh your memory.)


For Chef Tony's recipe, he uses a pound of locally harvested, "partially" cooked and peeled Crawfish tail meat. To make seafood Etouffee cheaply at home, I would use three thawed 5-ounce packages of  bay shrimp (or scallops) from my local Alberson's market or 99c only Store. For an even cheaper version, use a pound of fake crab (Krab) -- or, you could even make a Chicken Etouffee.


Chef Tony uses butter, which you can substitute with a smaller amount of a favorite oil. The Etouffee veggies are cheap anywhere - just bell pepper, tomato, onion and garlic. He also added a seafood broth from a small can of oysters (whole or pieces), which I still find at my local 99c Only Store - you could substitute with clam juice.

Alternate Seafood

You are in competent hands with Chef Tony, as he guides you though the steps in making a luscious Crawfish Etouffee. I've added a short video extra of  Chef Tony's Rice Recipe in the Directions section. Also included are a few ingredient substitutions and shortcuts that make it cheaper or more convenient. Of course, Chef Tony would prefer you go his way -- it tastes best.

To see a Louisiana chef in action, just click on the videos below to get the surprisingly easy instructions.

Crawfish Etouffee Recipe - Video

Play it here. The video runs 7 minutes, 28 seconds.

To view or embed from youtube, click here.

Ingredients (2-3 servings)
  • 1 pound crawfish tails - or peeled shrimp. Other versions include: Krab, Scallop, Sausage or Chicken. Or combine a couple of them.
  • 1 whole onion - diced
  • 1/2 each red and green bell pepper - okay to dice one whole bell pepper, any color.
  • 2 Roma tomatoes - or 1 large tomato, chopped. Okay to use 1 can of tomatoes or favorite pasta sauce.
  • 1 1/4 stick of butter - The 1/4 stick of butter is added to Etouffee just before serving (optional.) Okay to substitute 3 tablespoons of favorite oil, for a lighter version - 2 tbsp. for sauteing and 1 just before serving.
  • 2 cloves of garlic - about a teaspoon, minced, or pre-chopped from jar.
  • 3 green onions - sliced. Discard roots and old green ends - use white and light green parts.
  • 1/2 bunch of parsley - chopped
  • Broth from small can of cooked oysters - or clam juice (this is for extra seafood flavor - you could leave it out.) If you are using fresh shrimp, boil shells (and heads) in 3 cups of water, then remove shells - this is all the liquid you will need.
  • 2 cups of water - for Etouffee broth
  • 2 teaspoons of cornstarch - into reserved 1/2 cup oyster/water broth.
  • 1/4 teaspoon of Old Bay Seasoning - optional.
  • 2 whole bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce - optional
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

Directions
To a pot over medium heat, (or large skillet) add 1 stick of butter, and melt. For a lighter version you could get away with half the amount of butter, or substitute 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Roughly chop one whole onion and 1/2 red and green bell pepper.  Mix in tomato, bell pepper and tomato and cook 10-12 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Add minced garlic and cook about 30 seconds.


Now to make a simple seafood stock. Pour liquid from a can of cooked oysters into 2 cups of water (discard cooked oysters.) Okay to use small can of clam juice, or a cup of stock from boiled shrimp shells. Set aside 1/2 cup of stock for later.


Add seafood stock to cooking veggies (reserving 1/2 cup for later.) Bring to a boil, then add crawfish (or raw shrimp). For cooked shrimp, wait to add during the last 10 minutes of recipe.


Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a low simmer. Add 2 whole bay leaves. You can shake in a few shots of your favorite hot sauce - optional. Cook uncovered for 20-30 minutes at low heat.

You will need to cook an extra half hour if you are making a Chicken Etouffee. You want liquid in sauce to reduce by half -- so simmering time may vary, depending on your pot and stove top heat. Also leave out oyster broth.

I would start the rice now, either white or brown. Follow bag directions, or watch Chef Tony's Rice Recipe below.


Play it here. The video runs 1 minutes, 17 seconds.

To view or embed from youtube, click here.

Now we wrap it up. Add chopped green onions and parsley (I've also made it without these veggie additions.)


Spoon 2 teaspoons of cornstarch into 1/2 cup of reserved seafood broth -- blend well. Stir cornstarch liquid into pot of veggies and crawfish. Sauce should start to thicken into a gravy after a couple of minutes. Let it cook for about five more minutes over low heat.


Just before serving, add 1/4 stick of butter to sauce and stir until melted (or substitute a tablespoon of olive oil). Also, discard bay leaves.

Serve over white or brown rice. And get out the hot sauce and beer (or wine)!


Shortcuts include: leaving out parsley, green onions, Old Bay Seasoning, and canned oyster broth. You could also substitute flour for cornstarch. Chef Tony uses a lot of butter, I'm sure half the amount would work just fine.

6 comments:

Kirill said...

delicious!

vncbme said...

Never ever use FAKE crab! Blasphemy!

Billy Vasquez said...

hi vncbme, then you're not as cheap as I am ;-p

vncbme said...

@Billy That comes from living along the Gulf coast where I could go crabbing by scooping blue crabs right out of the water from the beach with a net and filling up a BIG Igloo cooler in 45 minutes. Spoiled, I guess. Lol.

Billy Vasquez said...

yeah, you live in the right spot, I grew up on blue crabs from the Gulf...the real thing is best ;-p

vncbme said...

Unfortunately, I no longer live on the Gulf. I live in the high desert, Albuquerque, NM. But I can get live blue crabs year round here for only $3.99/lb and recently bought live crawfish for 5.99/lb! Even kept one for a pet. ☺

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