Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Prawns Etouffee

Prawns etouffee

The only southern US city I've been to is Knoxville, Tennessee and even back then, they were already 'hispanised' because when I worked (I was on summer hols from Canada and was on visitor's visa. Got caught and ran away as far as I could on a Greyhound bus that took me to New York--and my wallet was picked while I slept in the bus, leaving me with only small change when I arrived at The Big Apple--to Montreal and Quebec City, but that's another story for another day) in one of the U of Tennessee's cafeterias, I remember dishing out enchiladas and tacos alongwith Southern fare like fried catfish and fried chicken. And meatloaf, which is not Southern. I have never eaten prawns etouffee (French word meaning to smother or suffocate; so elegant-sounding for a violent word) until I cooked it today. Come to think of it, I have never eaten much southern food, including that most famous Creole dish, gumbo. I think the only Southern thing I eat once in a while is cajun-spiced chicken when we do barbies.

Tealady cooked up a mean plate of crawfish etouffee a few posts ago and I decided to cook that for dinner tonight. Instead of crawfish, which isn't available here (I didn't know until now that crawfishes are freshwater crustaceans; I thought they were some kind of lobsters. Wait, aren't they?), I used small tiger prawns which of course gave a less authentic version of this Louisiana dish. According to Tealady and information I gathered on the net, an essential ingredient which gives crawfish etouffee its flavor and color is crawfish fat. Since there isn't any crawfish within the next 10,000 km, I boiled the shells of the prawns in water to get a stronger flavor, an idea borrowed from our own Malaysian prawn noodles. I used paprika (which turned my sauce brown instead of red. Must be an inferior import) instead of cayenne because Wey can't take hot so I had a bottle of hot sauce nearby for myself.

So what was the family's verdict? Like Tealady's tale of guests who wouldn't eat her etouffee, my son Wey, who hates prawns, forced dinner down his throat because etouffee was the only thing (plus a plate of greens and soup) on the table tonight. When I was cooking the dish, he came into the kitchen and joyfully said,"I smell chicken a la king!" Ming also asked if the etouffee was prawns a la king. They were right, etouffee is similar to chicken a la king in the way it's cooked and even taste except there's no cream added. Somehow I just found the sauce was lacking in something, something that will bind all the flavors together and so a spoonful of heavy cream was added and we all thought it was great! I also think a spoonful of tomato puree would perfect the dish, but then it would be very unauthentic.

Prawns Etouffee
1/2 kg prawns
3 stalks celery, chopped fine*
1 large brown onion, chopped fine*
1 large green bell pepper, chopped finely*
1 T finely chopped garlic
1 cup Swansons chicken stock
1 cup prawns stock (from boiling the prawns' shells)
2 T butter + 3 T veg oil (or use all butter)
3 heaped T plain flour
salt and pepper to taste
1 T paprika or cayenne

Garnish: parsley & finely chopped spring/green onions

* called 'the holy trinity' of Cajun/Creole cooking

1. Shell the prawns, remove dirt veins with a skewer. Boil the prawns' shells with 1 cup of water.

2. Heat up heavy pot, add the butter and oil and lower the heat. When butter has melted, add the flour and stir well. It will be liquidy. Stir it all the time, until it is brown (like color of cappucino) and add all the veg, sauteing until veg are soft. Add the prawns stock, the chicken stock and the prawns and cook over low heat for 10 min. If the sauce is too thick, add more water.

3. Season with the paprika/cayenne, salt and pepper. Sprinkle parsley and spring onions over. Serve hot with plain white rice.

Note: not authentic, but a spoonful of heavy cream improves the sauce.


Sophie said...

I'm Sophie, Key Ingredient's Chief Blogger. We would like to feature this recipe on our blog. Please email sophiekiblogger@gmail.com if interested. Thanks :)

B.I.M said...

Oooooh Etouffee!!! *swoon*
Never tried it with prawns but am sure it was yummy.
I've always been a big fan of what limited exposure I've had towards Cajun and Hispanic food.
And I like how Cajun in particular sticks to The Trinity of condiments in pretty much every dish.

Nyum! You should try out some classic French dishes too or maybe some Caribbean ones. Jerk chicken is a real treat!

B.I.M said...

Sorry Terri BIM was me, Shan.
Forgot I was still logged in to our marathon blog account. Oops.

Big Boys Oven said...

this seafood dish looks very very good!

Denise ^ ChiCkyEGG said...

POor my Korean-eyed boy

Terri @ A Daily Obsession said...

sophie: happy tt u like this enough to feature it; pls check mail.

bim/shan: wow u know the trinity of cajun cuisine. hmm, what cusine don't u know??

bbo: :)

denise: d lady at arirang in apiapi always calls him "My boyfriend!" & gives him free pa jon. in fact she spoke korean to him 1st time we went there. at tt time he was so fat n bloated there were no features on his face except for his mouth.

TeaLady said...

Wow, Terri. It looks really good even tho it didn't have crawfish. I guess I will have to try it with shrimp. Nice Job! And Sophie wants to feature it, neet!

Anonymous said...

A few comments regarding this post...A) Meatloaf is most certainly a Southern food. It is a staple to any lover of true Southern soul food
B)Etouffee and anything in the cajun and creole families is NOT southern. Cajun and Creole are their own styles found in Louisiana and the Mississippi Delta. Southern food comes from Southern Kentucky, Tennessee, the Carolinas, Georgia, Alabama, and parts of Mississippi.

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