Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Food Week: Crayfish Etoufee.

The friend of mine who suggested this whole food week happened to be from Louisiana. Lousiana's got plenty of unique cuisine, including gumbo, jambalaya, and a few other things with funny names. Among those was his personal choice for the week: Crayfish etouffee.

Etouffee ("stuffed" in French- yes, my accents suck) is basically any shellfish served over rice in a sort of stew. Vegetables and a tomato-based sauce are givens. common in both Cajun and creole cuisine. It is more popular in the southern parts of Louisiana than up north. The shellfish of choice in Louisiana is, of course, crayfish.

Crayfish is another one of those things that make me wonder, "who thought this was a good idea, again?" Crayfish are the smaller, more voracious cousins of the lobster. Put two in a tank and one of them will eventually eat the other. Then again, humans do eat anything.

These guys love food. They just don't like BEING food.

Another weird part of etouffee is something called roux. Roux is a thickening agent commonly found in French cooking. It's usually equal parts fat and flour. Depending on the kind of flavor desired, a blond or brown roux may be used in etouffee. Lighter roux creates a nuttier flavor while a darker roux enhances the flavors that are already there.

For those curious, crayfish etouffee was supposedly invented some 70 years ago in Beaux Bridge, Louisiana. Since then, it spread to New Orleans and cities across the state. It is consistently one of any given restaurant's most popular dishes. There are plenty of recipes if you click around online. A lot of people just use packaged mixes, but it still comes out great. I've never been to Louisiana, but will definitely give etouffee a try!

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