Crawfish Etouffee – a classic Louisiana dish with a buttery, rich and flavorful sauce with heaps of fresh crawfish tails, herbs and spices. Guaranteed to keep you wanting for seconds and even thirds!
I’m a huge fan of quick and easy weeknight meals. But there are recipes that I’m willing to put in the hard work especially if the outcome is an out-of-this-world dish ready to be devoured in seconds and since the crawfish season just kicked in, I couldn’t think of a better recipe than a spin-off of my popular Shrimp Etouffee recipe.
If you haven’t tried it, this is the right time to try both wonderful classic meals.
Here in LA, I feel so lucky to have decent seafood on display. But nothing can beat those fresh juicy Louisiana ones. I can’t wait to visit during crawfish season so I can indulge.
Crawfish season can last from November to July, but you’ll find that the best crawfish in the springtime and early summer, from late February until May. It is during Lent when crawfish season is in full swing.
This Crawfish Etouffee is a perfect Lenten meal or even a regular family weeknight meal. Warm rice is definitely the best with this dish or you can go with a big loaf of hot French bread to mop the sauce clean off the plate. Either way, you’ll be coming back for more of this classic Southern dish.
For those of you who are still new with Etouffee (French pronunciation : [e.tu.fe], English: / AY-too-FAY), it is a French term for “smother or suffocate.” In this recipe, crawfish tails are smothered in a rich, deep and flavorful roux-based sauce, heightened by the Southern holy trinity (onion, celery and bell pepper) with a dash of heat. This dish calls for constant stirring to create a lovely blonde roux and produce a nutty flavor. So if you’re up for the challenge, do a little warm-up with your arms. 😉
Crawfish vs Crayfish
Crayfish are freshwater crustaceans resembling small lobsters to which they are related. In my research about their differences and based on my understanding, I came up with these answers:
- Nicknames – In the United States, they are also known as crawfish, craydids, crawdaddies, crawdads, freshwater lobsters, mountain lobsters, mudbugs, or yabbies.
- Local names – Louisianans and Southerners most often call it crawfish and for the Northerners it’s crayfish.
What Does Crawfish Taste Like?
They are meatier than crab and not as tough as shrimp, and crawfish are often described as a cross between shrimp and crab that has a fresh seafood sweet taste.
How To Pick The Right Crawfish?
- Find a reputable dealer. Buy from a seafood dealer you know and respect in such business.
- Pick farm-raised crawfish because they live in a controlled environment that utilizes quality soil and water. So you are sure that they are properly handled.
- It shouldn’t smell fishy and must be cleaned properly.
- Crawfish season. As I have mentioned, the best time to have it is between late February to May.
- Jumbo size. Get the biggest one because you will have to go through tons of peelings before you can eat its meat.
- Butter – This is a more common fat in most French roux and it also adds flavor to the food. (le beurre est délicieux👌)
- Canola oil – This oil is good for sauteing especially when you need to infuse flavor into the food and In my Crawfish Etouffee recipe, I used it to make the roux.
- Flour – An ingredient to make the roux.
- Onion – When they are cooked their flavor turns mellow, sweet and savory. Learn how to cut onions here.
- Green Bell Pepper – Feature a more bitter flavor profile than the ripe red ones.
- Celery – It’s like raw or green onions with an earthy taste. An ingredient of “southern holy trinity”.
- Garlic – When it’s cooked the strong garlic flavor becomes mellow and savory. Know the benefits of eating garlic and the ways to cut it here.
- Thyme – Either fresh or dried, it will add aroma and earthy with floral hints that are a little bit sweet and a little bit peppery. Find out more about this herb here.
- Bay Leaf – Its fragrance in food is the most noticeable contribution in cooking, plus the aroma of dried bay leaves resembles a combination of thyme and oregano.
- Tomatoes – Adds a warm hue and tanginess to any dish that you add it to. You can learn how to cut and other facts about tomatoes here.
- Worcestershire Sauce – Its intense umami flavor came from anchovies that have been left to ferment in sour tamarind and vinegar, sweet from molasses and sugar.
- Paprika – It brightens every recipe with its fruity and sweet notes of flavor. Know more about this flavorful spice made from varieties of pepper here.
- Creole Seasoning – Contributes a savory flavor profile because of the different herbs and spices as an ingredient. Try my homemade seasoning here.
- Stock – Either crawfish or chicken, adjust to desired consistency and add this to give more flavor to this recipe.
- Crawfish – Use precooked meat. The star of Immaculatebites Crawfish Etouffee. It’s added at the last part of cooking to avoid overcooking the meat.
- Parsley – Has a clean and peppery taste with a touch of earthiness, making it a great all-rounder in cooking. I used it as a garnish for my dish here.
- Green Onions – Its aromatic flavor, you can also use it to add color, texture, and overall appeal to any dish. See how to cut and other information about it here.
- Hot Sauce – I wanted to add a kick of heat into my crawfish etouffee recipe but it’s optional if you’re not a fan of spicy food.
- Frozen crawfish tails. You can easily substitute frozen crawfish tails, if fresh is not available, add it during the last 3 minutes of cooking – do not overcook.
- Shrimp – A perfect substitute for crawfish is shrimp. It is still equally delicious and has a similar taste and texture.
- Lobster – Even though It has its own distinct flavor I say this is a good substitute for crawfish but mind you, they’re more expensive than our mudbugs!
- Crab – Typically another kind of crustacean and is related to crawfish, it has a delicate sweet flavor and a sweet aroma. That’s why it makes a good substitute for our main ingredient in this recipe.
Tips and Tricks For Cooking Crawfish
- Avoid straight-tailed crawfish. It means that the crawfish was dead before it was boiled. These crustaceans have Vibrio bacteria within their shell linings that multiply rapidly after they die, and it can’t be eradicated even by cooking.
- Cook them Live. ensure that it is still alive before cooking, in that way you can be sure that you’re using the freshest crawfish.
- Size matters. They should be the same size so that they will cook evenly.
Boiling Your Crawfish
Although you can choose how you want to season your crawfish boil or add your favorite Cajun seasoning, potatoes, corn on the cob, fresh lemon and juice and even mushrooms, the steps below are just basic steps to properly cook your crawfish so you can get the maximum quality of its meat.
- Boil some water then add your crawfish in and when it comes back to a boil, let them boil for ONLY 2 minutes (because more than that can overcook a crawfish very easily and it will be harder to peel). The crawfish will float to the surface which is a sign that it’s almost done.
- Then transfer them to a soaking pot the water temp should be 160℉ with ice for 20 minutes, keep on stirring in the first few minutes to keep the water temp from rising, during this process they will start to sink at the bottom of the pan.
- Then strain them and transfer to a dry cooler to keep warm before serving.
What Goes Well With Crawfish Etouffee?
My crawfish Etouffee is very rich in flavor and would really go well with other dishes. You can choose from the simplest like just top it on rice, Scarpetta South African corn bread, Homemade Garlic Bread, Fried Okra and eat it alongside Sausage and Peppers. But of course, don’t forget the beer! Eat and drink!
More Tasty Seafood Recipes
How To Make Crawfish Etouffee?
- Make the roux. In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan combine melted butter, oil, and flour until smooth. Cook on medium heat, stirring continuously (do this to avoid burning the roux), for about 10-12 minutes, until you have achieved the desired color. (Photos 1-2).
- The southern holy trinity. Add the onion, green bell pepper, and celery and cook for 8- 10 minutes – stirring frequently. (Photos 3-4)
- Add other ingredients. Then add, garlic, thyme, and bay leaf – continue stirring for about 2 minutes. Next throw in about 1 cup chopped tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, Paprika, and Creole seasoning and let it cook for 5 minutes. (Photos 5-6)
- Simmer and adjust the taste. Gradually pour in about 2 cups of stock, bring to a boil and let it simmer. Add the crawfish, simmer for 5 more minutes. Adjust thickness soup and flavor with more shrimp broth or water, hot sauce and salt. (Photos 7-8)
- Herbs and garnish. Stir in, green onions, and chopped parsley. Serve over hot cooked rice. (Photo 9)
- Infuse flavor with aromatics. Add a teaspoon or 2 of butter or oil to a saucepan or skillet. Then throw in Crawfish shells, the remaining scraps of onion, garlic, celery together with aromatics like bay leaf and thyme.
- Add water. Saute for about 5 -7 minutes, stirring constantly, to prevent any burns. Add about 5 cups of water to it
- Get the stock. Bring to a boil, lower heat, and let it simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and strain using a sieve. Set stock aside.
- 2 tablespoons (28.4 g) butter
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) canola oil
- 3 tablespoons (45 g) flour
- ½ medium (170g) onion diced
- ½ cup (75g) green bell pepper diced
- ⅓ cup (about 1-2 sticks) celery chopped
- 2 teaspoons (5.6 g) garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon (0.91 g) thyme fresh or dried
- 1 piece bay leaf
- 1 cup (200 g) tomatoes chopped
- 2 teaspoons worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon (2.30 g) paprika
- 2 teaspoons (24 g) creole seasoning
- 1 cup (237 ml) crawfish stock or chicken stock (adjust to desired consistency)
- 1 pound crawfish meat
- 2-3 tablespoons (7.6-11.4 g) parsley chopped
- 2 green onions chopped
- 1 teaspoon ( 4.69 g) hot sauce optional
- salt to taste
- In a large Dutch oven or heavy bottomed saucepan combine melted butter, oil and flour until smooth.
- Cook on medium heat, stirring continuously, for about 10-12 minutes, until you have achieved desired color. Don’t walk away from the stove during this process. It might burn.
- Add the onion, green pepper and celery and cook for 8- 10 minutes –stirring frequently.
- Then add, garlic , thyme and bay leaf – continue stirring about 2 minutes.
- Next throw in about 1 cup chopped tomatoes, worcestershire sauce, paprika and creole seasoning and let it cook for 5 minutes.
- Gradually pour in about 2 cups of stock, bring to a boil and let it simmer .Add the crawfish, simmer for 3-4 more minutes.
- Adjust thickness soup and flavor with more shrimp broth or water, hot sauce and salt.
- Stir in, green onions, and chopped parsley.
- Serve over hot cooked rice.
- Add a teaspoon or 2 of butter or oil to a sauce pan or skillet . Then throw in Crawfish shells, the remaining scraps of onion, garlic , celery together with aromatics like bay leaf and thyme.
- Saute for about 5 -7 minutes, stirring constantly, to prevent any burns. Add about 5 cups of water to it.
- Bring to a boil, lower heat and let it simmer for 20 minutes.Remove from heat and strain using a sieve. Set stock aside.