In Cajun cooking, étouffée means "to smother in its own juices." For an authentic version of spicy shrimp étouffée, we turned to New Orleans food maven Poppy Tooker, who provided her own family recipe.
8 Tbs. (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 bunch green onions, white and light green portions, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
3 Tbs. tomato paste
1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
1 1/2 cups shrimp or fish stock
2 bay leaves
2 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Buttered steamed rice for serving
In a deep sauté pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the green onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, tomato paste and thyme and cook for about 2 minutes. Whisk in the stock until the mixture is smooth. Add the bay leaves and bring to a boil, then add the shrimp. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the shrimp are cooked through, about 5 minutes. Season with cayenne, salt and black pepper.
Remove the bay leaves and discard. Serve the shrimp étouffée immediately over buttered steamed rice. Serves 6.
Adapted from a recipe by Poppy Tooker, Slow Foods Convivium, New Orleans.