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April 1, 2008

Hot sauce (Recipe: shrimp etouffee)

Updated August 2010.

Shrimp etouffee 

Once upon a time, there lived a maiden so afraid of spicy food that nary a Szechuan dumpling, nor a bite of chicken with Thai red curry sauce, nor a nacho's worth of salsa ever passed her lips.

In her kitchen, a bottle of Tabasco hot sauce filled the space on the spice rack where hot sauce is supposed to be, though the maiden's specimen was aging slowly from red to brown, separating in the bottle and gathering dust.

Then, one day, the maiden and Ted and Cousin Martin traveled to New Orleans. She tasted jambalaya and blackened catfish, po' boys and shrimp caught fresh in the Gulf of Mexico. She visited Avery Island, the temple of Tabasco, where she walked up and down the rows of pepper plants, breathing in the aroma of pepper and vinegar.

There was hot sauce everywhere, and the maiden fell in love.

Louisiana-style hot sauce, the most popular in the United States, is made from chile peppers, vinegar and salt. Nothing more. The peppers are mashed, salt is added, and the mixture is transferred to oak barrels to age for up to three years. Then it's strained, and diluted with vinegar.

Hot sauce

The heat of the peppers, which comes from the capsaicin present in the seeds and ribs, determines the strength of the sauce. The maiden who once feared Tabasco (2,500 to 5,000 Scoville units) now uses Dave's Insanity Sauce (180,000 Scoville units!). Sometimes she mixes a few sauces, including Rhode Island Red, which is a full-flavored, tomato-based sauce.

Hot sauce is super-healthy, with hardly any calories or fat. Some brands have a few carbs, and all have some sodium -- approximately 2 milligrams of sodium per shake of the bottle.

Even though her hot sauce could stay in the pantry for up to five years without refrigeration, it never lasts that long, because these days the maiden puts it in everything from bean soup to Buffalo wings.

Shrimp etouffee close up

Shrimp etouffee

Mardi Gras has come and gone, but this Creole dish forever reminds me of my first visit to New Orleans. Make etouffee (pronounced eh-two-FAY) with crawfish tails instead of the shrimp, if you're lucky enough to have crawfish (or buy online and support the Louisiana economy). Serves 4; can be doubled.

Ingredients

1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
3 cups chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp minced fresh basil
1 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp kosher salt, or more to taste
1 tsp sweet paprika
1/2 tsp Tabasco or other mild to medium hot sauce
1-1/4 cup shrimp stock or chicken stock
1 lb peeled medium shrimp (31-40 per pound)
1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions
1 Tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

Directions

Set a large heavy Dutch oven over medium heat. Melt the butter, add the flour and make a roux the color of peanut butter (this is called a medium roux). Add the onion, celery and bell pepper. Cook until the onions are translucent and the celery and pepper are tender. Add the garlic, basil, black pepper, cayenne, salt and paprika, and cook for two minutes. Stir in the hot sauce and stock, and bring to a gentle boil. Add the shrimp, scallions and parsley. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve over steamed rice.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]


Also in The Perfect Pantry:

Lentils and brown rice
Spicy turkey rolls
Jambalaya
Roasted halibut tacos with mango salsa
Doro wat (chicken in red pepper sauce)
Curried squash, apple and pear soup

Other recipes that use hot sauce:
Buffalo wings, from Simply Recipes
Tabasco and asparagus quinoa, from 101 Recipes
Pomegranate barbecue sauce, from Cooking with Amy
Cilantro-lovers perfect guacamole with red onion, lime, and chiles, from Kalyn's Kitchen
Cholula cheese bread, from Baking and Books

Comments

love that. it´s very similar to Cuban enchiilada, which I´ve had on my list for years but never make because I can´t find the right kind of peeled frozen shrimp (I´m lazy). I also have your recipe for caramel shrimp, though, so it´s going to be hard to choose!

I don't think I have ever tried anything like this, Lydia. It looks like something Joao would love, too!

I once bought a bottle of 'death sauce' which even had a skull hanging off it!

Who can resist a good love story? Especially one with a little spice! And knowing that you're a regular user of Dave's Insanity Sauce, makes you my culinary hero!

I use to be terrified of hot sauce too or anything spicy hot. Then my apartment-mate introduced me to chili sauce and soy as dipping for Asian fried chicken wings. Now I am hooked. It gives you a high - I heard it releases endorphins.

Are you familiar with the now-deceased Justin Wilson, southern humorist, cookbook author and host of several PBS cooking shows including "Justin Wilson's Louisiana Cookin'?" That man and those PBS cooking shows introduced me to Cajun cooking and secured forever my love of all things spicy.

I keep a plethora of hot sauces stocked in my pantry, as they all bring unique qualities to the table considering they are similarly produced. My favorite ways to use hot sauce? On scrambled eggs and in bloody marys.

I recently discovered Sriracha hot sauce and have added it to my pantry as well. Perhaps I'll whip up some hot wings soon, or try your recipe for shrimp etouffee. It sounds delicious, especially made with crawfish - yum!

'round these parts, we use "sweet death" hot sauce, along with chipotle tobacco and regular tobacco. sriracha when we really want a kick.

also, i love etouffee - this recipe is bookmarked.

You may not have known this about me, but I LOVE hot sauce! Like love love love it. Perhaps I should try this brand.

Reading this post is getting my mouth salivating. I think I am going to look for Dave's Insanity. Major conversion, I am impressed...

That sounds wonderful! I am slowly getting braver with hot... Then I do something stupid like make peppered pork tenderloin and use so much pepper (Duh, did I forget it's hot? It's jusr regular old pepper) I couldn't even eat it. My mouth burned for hours!
I'll learn - slowly, slowly...

I love hot sauce.

Paz

Tarnation! I loves me some etouffee. Tabasco is one of those ingredients that I always have. Can't imagine not having it.

Lobstersquad, I hope you find the shrimp because you will love love love this dish. I promise!

Patricia, this is really a kind of stew, and it's delicious over rice.

Helen, that sounds wonderful -- and a bit scary!

TW, I can't imagine how, or why, it took me so long to come around to hot and spicy food. They say that you build up a tolerance, but you also get the teeniest bit addicted! Are you a hot sauce addict, too?

Veron, yes, endorphins -- I'm sure that's true.

Sandie, I've written about Justin Wilson in earlier posts. He was a wonderful cook, and I learned much of what I knew about Cajun cooking before visiting Louisiana from watching his show on PBS. And he was a great storyteller, too. Sriracha ("rooster sauce") is a staple in my kitchen.

Michelle, the chipotle Tabasco is a great sauce, very flavorful.

Hillary, you are a woman after my own heart!

Callipygia, I'm sure that if I had to choose between hot food and chocolate, I'd choose the hot and spicy stuff!

Katie, I've done that with black pepper, too. I used to buy supermarket pepper, which was often stale and not too flavorful. Once I started grinding peppercorns, and buying fresh ground pepper from Penzeys, I was surprised by how sharp and "spicy" it is -- and I would use far too much in my cooking because I'd gotten used to the weaker supermarket stuff.

Paz, me too.

Sher, same here -- I am never without several bottles of Tabasco on hand.

Yummy. I remember eating this dish in New Orleans. I'm a bit of a hot sauce wimp, but I do like a little. I've recently gotten into Sriracha sauce but I think green Tabasco sauce is still my favorite.

Kalyn, it's true that you build up a tolerance to hot and spicy food. Honestly I never used to eat anything even remotely spicy; I started slowly, with dishes like etouffee that are more flavorful than hot, and slowly I noticed that I was adding more and more hot sauce in my own cooking. Sriracha is a wonderful condiment to have on hand; I especially like it in the squirt bottles.

My lips are numbing just by reading + looking at the picture! Will be interesting to see more of its use in Chinese cooking and dips :)

Lydia - actually I'm a total hot sauce wimp! For some reason, my tongue can only bear the tiniest bit of heat, but I'm trying to be more adventurous...

Tigerfish, this is the hottest sauce in my pantry -- it is a little bit lip-numbing!

TW, like all good things, building up tolerance to hot sauce is a process -- one worth enduring, as the end result is a good, cheap high!

I always loved etoufee. Brings back great memories of trips to New Orleans. Thanks for the recipe definitely going to try this one out.

Dave's is by far one of my favorite hot sauces. Not that hot compared to others but a great heat.

Jeff, welcome to The Perfect Pantry. Etouffee brings back those memories for me, too -- it was the dish I had after waiting nearly three hours on line to get into K-Paul's many years ago. I don't know whether the etouffee was the best ever, or whether it just tasted so good because I could finally sit down and rest my exhausted feet -- but whenever I have etouffee now, I think of that night and that restaurant.

This recipe looks delicious and food with a story to remember is always the best kind. Jambalaya, etoufee, and friends all get me weak in the knees. Plus, anything with some heat is always a good thing.

Mike, I'm powerless to resist those wonderful Cajun dishes, too.

WOW! Thanks for using Dave's Insanity Sauce! It's some sure fire hot sauce, to be certain.

I work for Dave, and love his sauces. I did want to leave you a small point of correction though... Dave's is officially only good for two years in the bottle, in the fridge. :D What with all the vinegar in there, it'd probably keep forever, but officially... it's only good for two years. After that the largest degradation to the sauce is reflected in its heat levels. The older a bottle gets, the more it's heat diminishes.

But you, being the heat connoisseur that you've become, would never have a bottle around that long! LOL!

Kudos on your chilerific journey!

WOW! Thanks for using Dave's Insanity Sauce! It's some sure fire hot sauce, to be certain.

I work for Dave, and love his sauces. I did want to leave you a small point of correction though... Dave's is officially only good for two years in the bottle, in the fridge. :D What with all the vinegar in there, it'd probably keep forever, but officially... it's only good for two years. After that the largest degradation to the sauce is reflected in its heat levels. The older a bottle gets, the more it's heat diminishes.

But you, being the heat connoisseur that you've become, would never have a bottle around that long! LOL!

Kudos on your chilerific journey!

I have long loved hot sauces and am known for making my own cayenne sauces from my own garden-raised cayenne peppers. Most who try my cayenne sauce remark that it is the best they have had and clamor for more. Actually, I just use the late, great Justin Wilson's recipe for Louisiana Hot Sauce, and it is EXCELLENT! I really don't like Dave's Insanity Sauce--it has kind of an off, musty flavor--I suspect it is sold only for its heat and not so much for its taste. Sorry.

Watch out for this really hot sauce! The 357 Mad Dog hot sauce is a total hot knock out and it even comes with a warning on the label. They claim 6 million Scoville Units in the sauce. Use only a small drop!

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About The Perfect Pantry®

  • My name is Lydia Walshin. From my log house kitchen in rural northwest Rhode Island, I share recipes that use what we keep in our pantries, the usual and not-so-usual ingredients that spice up our lives.

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