30-minute meals

Prawn étouffée: A Creole and Cajun classic with a clever little shortcut

A quick swap gets this flavourful dish on the table especially fast. By Vallery Lomas

Tuesday 21 December 2021 12:00

Found in both Creole and Cajun cuisines, étouffée is most commonly made with crawfish tails, which aren’t readily available in most places. For this take on the classic, prawns create an excellent dish all their own.

The technique for roux here employs a clever shortcut: the flour is added after the onion, celery, bell pepper and garlic have already been sautéed in the butter, getting dinner to the table especially fast.

Prawn étouffée

Serves: 4 servings

Total time: 30 minutes


4 tbsp unsalted butter

1 yellow onion, finely chopped

2 celery stalks, thinly sliced

½ green bell pepper, finely chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

3 tbsp all-purpose flour

2 tbsp tomato paste

180ml chicken or vegetable stock

1 tbsp hot sauce, or to taste

1 dried bay leaf

2 tsp shop-bought or homemade Creole seasoning (see tip)

Salt and black pepper

450g prawns, peeled and deveined

1 spring onion, green parts chopped

White rice, for serving


1. In a large frying pan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onion, celery and bell pepper, and cook until softened, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 more minute.

2. Sprinkle the flour over the ingredients and stir constantly until lightly toasted, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste, and stir and cook for 1 more minute.

3. Pour in the stock and 180ml water. Cook until the liquid is reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Add the hot sauce, bay leaf, Creole seasoning, 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Bring to a boil, and cook until the mixture starts to thicken, about 2 minutes.

4. Stir in the prawns and reduce the heat to medium. Simmer until the prawns are cooked through and opaque, about 5 minutes, turning each piece halfway through. Remove from the heat. Taste and adjust seasoning. Sprinkle the spring onions on top. Serve warm over rice.

Tip: To make your own Creole seasoning, combine 1 tablespoon smoked paprika, 1 tablespoon chilli powder, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (or less, if desired), ½ teaspoon fine sea salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper in a small bowl and stir together. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

© The New York Times

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