Shrimp or Crawfish Étouffée
  • 1 1⁄2 pounds raw shrimp (any size)
  • 1⁄2 cup sliced yellow or green onion
  • 2 1⁄2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 3⁄4 cup finely diced onion
  • 1⁄2 cup finely diced celery
  • 1⁄2 cup finely diced bell pepper (red, yellow, green, or a combination)
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1⁄4 cup flour
  • 3⁄4 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
  • 1⁄3 cup sliced green onion tops
  • 4 cups cooked long-grain white rice
Time estimates

Prep time: 30 min  

Cook time: 45 min  

Total time: 1 hr 15 min  


  1. Peel and devein the shrimp; reserve the shells.
  2. Combine the shells, sliced onion (the white parts of the green onions are fine for this purpose), and water in a saucepan.
  3. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook 15 to 20 minutes. Meanwhile, place the shrimp in a bowl, sprinkle with half the kosher salt, let stand 1 minute, then cover with cold water.
  4. Drain, rinse, repeat, and let drain in a colander.
  5. Combine the black pepper, white pepper, paprika, and cayenne.
  6. Melt the butter in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. When it just begins to brown, add the onion, celery, and bell pepper.
  7. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion begins to brown.
  8. Add the garlic, dried herbs, and 1 teaspoon of the pepper blend.
  9. Cook 1 minute, then stir in the flour.
  10. Cook, stirring and scraping the pan constantly, until the flour begins to darken.
  11. Strain the shrimp stock into a heatproof container and add 2 cups to the skillet along with the salt.
  12. Reduce the heat and cook, stirring, until the sauce settles down to a simmer.
  13. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary with more salt or more of the pepper blend.
  14. Add the shrimp to the skillet, cover, and cook over low heat, stirring once or twice, until the shrimp are opaque, 7 to 10 minutes.
  15. Stir in the green onion tops and serve over rice.


Serves 4 people


If using live crawfish, boil them in plain salted water or with spices as in Shrimp Boil, and when cool peel the tails. Use the heads and tail shells to flavor the broth, and taste the sauce before adding any salt. Add the meat (or cooked meat if you buy it that way) to the finished sauce just to reheat.


I’m not really sure about the chemistry here, but I think the salt-leaching process in the first step washes away some of the broken-down proteins on the surface of the shrimp; because the shrimp are salted very briefly, only a tiny bit of salt soaks into the meat. However it works, I find it really improves the flavor and texture, especially of frozen shrimp.

Which beer should I drink with this?

Pale lager, Märzen, or not-too-hoppy amber ale.

The Microbrew Lover’s Cookbook 

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From The Microbrew Lover’s Cookbook, Copyright © 2002 by Jay Harlow. Used by arrangement with Jay Harlow.


Photo: tsand/Flickr

Shrimp or Crawfish Étouffée
This thick, flavorful stew of shellfish and finely diced vegetables “smothered” in spicy broth and served over rice is a standard of Louisiana Cajun cooking