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 (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.

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.


Kirill said...


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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