Crawfish étouffée, served at a restaurant in New Orleans
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Étouffée or etouffee (pronounced: [e.tu.fe] ay-TOO-fay) is a dish found in both Cajun and Creole cuisine typically served with shellfish over rice. The dish employs a technique known as smothering, a popular method of cooking in the Cajun areas of southwest Louisiana. Étouffée is most popular in New Orleans and in the Acadiana area of the southernmost half of Louisiana as well as a popular dish in the coastal counties of Mississippi.
Étouffée can be made wih any shellfish such as crab or shrimp, though the most popular version of the dish is made with crawfish. Étouffée is seasoned and slightly thicker than a typical stew. Depending on who is making it and where it is being made it is flavored with either Creole or Cajun seasonings. It is important to note that although Creole and Cajun cuisines are distinct, there are many similarities. Étouffée is typically served over rice and is typically made with a light or blond roux. In the case of the Creole version of Crawfish Étouffée, it is made with a blonde or brown roux and sometime tomatoes are added. A blond roux is one that is cooked, stirring constantly, for approximately 20 minutes to remove the "raw" flavor of the flour and to add a slightly "nutty" flavor, while a brown roux is cooked longer (30 to 35 minutes) in order to deepen the color and flavor.
Approximately in the 1950s Crawfish Étouffée was introduced to restaurant goers in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, however the date of invention of this dish has been shown as early as the late 1920 by some sources. Originally Crawfish Étouffée was a popular dish in the bayous and backwaters of Louisiana amongst Cajuns in the area. Around 1983 a waiter at a popular Bourbon Street restaurant Galatoire's brought the crawfish étouffée dish in to his boss to try, at the time most of the food in New Orleans was French Creole but this Cajun dish was a hit.
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