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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 state.
In French, the word "étouffée" (borrowed into English as "stuffed" or "stifled") means, literally, "smothered" or "suffocated", from the verb "étouffer". 
Étouffée can be made using different shellfish, the most popular version of the dish being Crawfish Étouffée. 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. Étouffée is typically served over rice and is made with a roux. In the case of the Creole version of Crawfish Étouffée, it is made with a blonde or brown roux. 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.  It is important to note that although Creole and Cajun cuisines are distinct, there are many similarities. 
Originally étouffée was a popular dish in the Bayou and backwaters of Louisiana. Approximately 70 years ago étouffée was introduced to restaurant goers in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana. It was a very popular dish among Cajuns in the area. About 25 years ago a waiter at a popular Bourbon Street restaurant Galatoire's brought the dish in to his boss to try. The dish was a hit and they have served it ever since. The dish gained popularity in the city and is a common choice among tourists and locals alike. Many Cajun restaurant owners claim that étouffée is the most popular dish on the menu. 
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