Shrimp and Crawfish Etouffee

Southern Kitchen

Serves: 8

Hands On Time: 2 hours and 0 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours and 0 minutes


1/4 cup canola oil

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

4 cups shrimp shells and/or heads

1 small onion, chopped

1 small carrot, diced

1 stalk celery, diced

1 small red bell pepper, diced

6 cloves garlic, smashed

1 small jalapeño, finely chopped

2 tablespoons paprika

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 bay leaf

Pinch cayenne pepper

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons tomato paste

4 cups clam juice

1 1/2 cups tomato juice

Juice of 1 lemon

2 tablespoons gumbo file powder

2 pounds small shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 pound crawfish tails

Cooked white rice, for serving

Chopped scallions, for garnish


Heat a heavy-bottomed stock pot over medium-high heat. Add the oil, then whisk in the flour. Cook, stirring constantly, to develop a roux that is browned and nutty, but not black. It should almost resemble the color of peanut butter.

Add the shrimp shells, onion, carrot, celery, bell pepper, garlic, jalapeño, paprika, thyme, bay leaf, cayenne and 1 teaspoon black pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp shells turn pink and the vegetables have softened.

Add the tomato paste, and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until it has turned slightly rust-colored. Stir in the clam and tomato and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice and gumbo file powder.

Transfer the mixture to a blender (or use an immersion blender) and puree until slightly thickened. Pour through a mesh strainer or fine colander into a large saucepan to remove any lasting particles of shrimp shells.

Return the strained sauce to medium heat and add the shrimp and crawfish. Poach until just cooked through, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve over white rice, garnished with scallions.

About the recipe

Literally meaning “to smother,” etouffee is a Cajun staple augmented with crawfish, shrimp, or both. This recipe will yield a flavorful base sauce, and feel free to add whatever seafood you like at the very end.

You’ll need a tabletop or immersion blender with enough power to puree the shrimp shells. Don’t worry if they don’t all puree: just strain out what has been left behind after pureeing whatever you can. At the very least, the vegetables will contribute flavor and body to the sauce. Also, ask the folks at your seafood counter for shrimp shells — they should be happy to give them to you for an exceptionally low price.