The Hang Fire Cookbook

Étouffée, pronounced ‘eh-TOO-fay’, is a dish found in both Cajun and Creole cuisine, typically served with shellfish over rice. Étouffée is most popular in the Acadian area of Southern Louisiana. The dish uses a technique known in Louisiana cuisine as ‘smothering’, meaning to cook with a small amount of liquid over a long period of time. You can add more shellfish such as clams, mussels, razor clams, cockles, or whatever you fancy to give it that Bayou boogie.


Quantity Ingredient
130ml groundnut oil
100g plain flour
1 medium onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
2 celery sticks, diced
3 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon cajun seasoning
4 spring onions, finely sliced
4 tablespoons chopped flat-parsley leaves
2 teaspoon louisiana hot sauce, or your favourite hot sauce
400g tin chopped tomatoes
300ml vegetable stock
750g fresh jumbo prawns, head and shell-on
2 teaspoon filé powder
50g unsalted butter
fine sea salt, to taste

To serve

Quantity Ingredient
500g cooked rice
2 spring onions, chopped
1 tomato, deseeded and diced
1 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley


  1. Heat the groundnut oil in a heavy-based pan, or cast-iron casserole, over low heat. Whisk the flour into the oil to form a paste, and cook for about 15–20 minutes, whisking continuously until caramel in colour (this is called a medium roux, see centre illustration below). The roux will be superhot, so make sure you don’t splash yourself, we have had many a speckled roux scar on our hands.
  2. Take the roux off the heat while you add your ‘holy trinity’ of onion, bell pepper, celery and garlic. Put the pan back on the hob and cook over low heat for 7–8 minutes or so, stirring, until the vegetables have softened. Add the black, white and cayenne peppers, the Cajun seasoning, spring onions, parsley and hot sauce and mix well. Add the tinned tomatoes with their juices followed by the vegetable stock, and stir well. Bring to the boil over medium-high heat, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 35–40 minutes, until reduced and slightly thickened.
  3. When the stew has reduced by a quarter, add the prawns and filé powder. Be careful not to overcook the prawns or they’ll be chewy. Cook for 4–5 minutes until the shells turn pink, then immediately remove from the heat, add the butter and stir. Seasoning to taste. Transfer the étouffée to a serving bowl or, if you prefer, individual bowls over some rice. Garnish with the spring onions, tomato and parsley.

Three steps to roux heaven

  • There are three main colours of roux in Acadian cooking: blonde, medium and dark. The only thing that separates them is time and elbow grease. The darker the roux, the nuttier it will taste and the less it will thicken your dish. The lighter the roux, the thicker (and lighter in colour) your final dish.
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