One of America’s Favorites – Étouffée

September 16, 2019 at 6:02 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | Leave a comment
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Crawfish étouffée, served at a restaurant in New Orleans

Étouffée or etouffee (French: [e.tu.fe], English: /ˌeɪtuːˈfeɪ/ 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 the coastal counties of Mississippi, Alabama, northern Florida, and eastern Texas.

In French, the word “étouffée” (borrowed into English as “stuffed” or “stifled”) literally means “smothered” or “suffocated”, from the verb “étouffer”.

Étouffée is a dish of seafood or chicken simmered in a sauce made from a light or blond roux.

It is most commonly made with shellfish, such as crab or shrimp. The most popular version of the dish is made with crayfish (or “crawfish”).

Étouffée is typically served over rice.

Another version of crawfish étouffée

Depending on who is making it and where it is being made it is flavored with either Creole or Cajun seasonings. Although Creole and Cajun cuisines are distinct, there are many similarities. In the case of the Creole version of crawfish étouffée, it is made with a blonde or brown roux and sometimes tomatoes are added. A blond roux is one that is cooked, stirring constantly, for approximately 5 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.

Around the 1950s, crawfish étouffée was introduced to restaurant goers in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana; however, the dish may have been invented as early as the late 1920s, according to some sources. Originally, crawfish étouffée was a popular dish amongst Cajuns in the bayous and backwaters of Louisiana. Around 1983, a waiter at the popular Bourbon Street restaurant Galatoire’s brought the dish to his boss to try. At the time, most New Orleans restaurants served French Creole cuisine, but this Cajun dish was a hit.

Seafood of the Week – Scallops

December 3, 2013 at 10:10 AM | Posted in scallops, seafood, Seafood of the Week | Leave a comment
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An edge-on view of a live scallop with the valves open

An edge-on view of a live scallop with the valves open

A scallop (/ˈskɒləp/ or /ˈskæləp/; from Old French escalope, meaning “shell”) is a common name applied to many species of marine bivalve mollusks in the family Pectinidae, the scallops. Scallops are a cosmopolitan family, found in all of the world’s oceans.
Many scallops are highly prized as a food source; the name “scallop” is also applied to the meat of these animals when it is used as seafood. The brightly colored, fan-shaped shells of some scallops, with their radiating, fluted patterns, are valued by shell collectors, and have been used since ancient times as motifs in art and design.

 

 

 

Most scallops are free-living, but some species can attach to a substrate by a structure called a byssus, or even be cemented to their substrate as adults (e.g. Hinnites spp.). Other scallops can extend a “foot” from between their valves. By then contracting the foot, they can burrow themselves deeper into sand. A free-living scallop can swim by rapidly opening and closing its shell. This method of locomotion is also a defensive technique, protecting it from threatening predators. So-called singing scallops can make an audible, soft popping sound as they flap their shells underwater.

 

 

A live opened scallop showing the internal anatomy

A live opened scallop showing the internal anatomy

 

By far the largest wild scallop fishery is for the Atlantic sea scallop (Placopecten magellanicus) found off northeastern United States and eastern Canada. Most of the rest of the world’s production of scallops is from Japan (wild, enhanced, and aquaculture), and China (mostly cultured Atlantic bay scallops).
Scallops are most commonly harvested using scallop dredges or bottom trawls. Recently, scallops harvested by divers, hand-caught on the ocean floor, have entered the marketplace. In contrast to scallops captured by a dredge across the sea floor, diver scallops tend to be less gritty. They are also more ecologically friendly, as the harvesting method does not cause damage to undersea flora or fauna. In addition, dredge-harvesting methods often result in delays of up to two weeks before the scallops arrive at market, which can cause the flesh to break down, and results in a much shorter shelf life.

 

 

 

On the east coast of the United States, over the last 100 years, the populations of bay scallops have greatly diminished due to several factors, but probably is mostly due to reduction in sea grasses (to which bay scallop spat attach) caused by increased coastal development and concomitant nutrient runoff. Another possible factor is reduction of sharks from overfishing. A variety of sharks used to feed on rays, which are a main predator of bay scallops. With the shark population reduced — in some places almost eliminated — the rays have been free to feed on scallops to the point of greatly decreasing their numbers. By contrast, the Atlantic sea scallop (Placopecten magellanicus) is at historically high levels of abundance after recovery from overfishing.

 

 

Dried scallops, also known as conpoy

Dried scallops, also known as conpoy

 

Scallops are characterized by having two types of meat in one shell: the adductor muscle, called “scallop”, which is white and meaty, and the roe, called “coral”, which is red or white and soft.
Sometimes, markets sell scallops already prepared in the shell, with only the adductor muscle intact. Outside the U.S., the scallop is often sold whole. In Galician cuisine, scallops are baked with bread crumbs, ham, and onions. In the UK and Australia, they are available both with and without the roe. The roe is also usually eaten.
Scallops without any additives are called “dry packed”, while scallops that are treated with sodium tripolyphosphate (STPP) are called “wet packed”. STPP causes the scallops to absorb moisture prior to the freezing process, thereby increasing the weight. The freezing process takes about two days.
In Japanese cuisine, scallops may be served in soup or prepared as sashimi or sushi. Dried scallop is known in Cantonese Chinese cuisine as conpoy.

In a sushi bar, hotategai is the traditional scallop on rice, and while kaibashira may be called scallops, it is actually the adductor muscle of any kind of shellfish, e.g. mussels, oysters, or clams.
Scallops have lent their name to the culinary term ‘scalloped’, which originally referred to seafood creamed and served hot in the shell. Today, it means a creamed casserole dish such as scalloped potatoes, which contains no seafood at all.

 

 

 

Kitchen Hint of the Day!

February 10, 2013 at 12:21 PM | Posted in seafood | Leave a comment
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Once clams are dug up, they must be cleaned of sand and debris. To accomplish this, the clams should be allowed to soak in the clamsrefrigerator in a solution of one part salt to 10 parts water for several hours overnight. If your pressed for time, rinse them in a bowl of fresh water, changing it frequently, until no sand remains.

Kitchen Hint of the Day!

February 9, 2013 at 10:34 AM | Posted in cooking, seafood | Leave a comment
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The shells of healthy clams should be closed when you buy them. They will gradually open as the clams cook. (If you keep the clams on clamsice, they will also probably relax and open their shells.) Like mussels, if a clam shell doesn’t open by itself when the clam is cooked, it should be discarded.

Kitchen Hint of the Day!

February 7, 2013 at 10:16 AM | Posted in seafood | Leave a comment
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Store live oysters for up to 2 days in the refrigerator in a single layer with the larger shell down, covered with a damp towel. Oysters are  easy to overcook, so cook them carefully. If you are poaching them, take them out as soon as their edges start to curl.

 

Poached  Oysters

Poached Oysters

Kitchen Hint of the Day!

February 5, 2013 at 9:57 AM | Posted in cooking, seafood | Leave a comment
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The most effective way to get rid of sand and grit from clams is to soak them in water with a bit of cornmeal stirred in. It irritates the clamsclams, and they expel the sand while trying to eliminate the cornmeal.

Kitchen Hint of the Day!

February 2, 2013 at 10:54 AM | Posted in cooking | Leave a comment
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Like lobsters and crabs, crayfish (also known as Crawfish or Crawdads) are always cooked live. However, all the meat is found in the tail. To remove the meat easily, gently twist the tail away from the body, then unwrap the first three sections of the shell to expose the meat. Next, pinch the end of the meat in one hand while holding the tail in the other, and pull the meat out in one piece.

Kitchen Hint of the Day!

February 1, 2013 at 9:46 AM | Posted in seafood | Leave a comment
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If your eating a whole lobster and bibs aren’t your thing, cover the lobster with a napkin or towel before twisting off the legs and claws. This will keep the juices from squirting out.

Kitchen Hint of the Day!

January 31, 2013 at 12:35 PM | Posted in cooking, shrimp | Leave a comment
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Frozen shrimp can make for a quick and easy meal, but try to avoid shrimp that have been peeled and deveined before freezing, which usually causes a loss of texture and flavor.

Kitchen Hint of the Day!

January 30, 2013 at 11:25 AM | Posted in cooking, shrimp | Leave a comment
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Shrimp are low in fat, delicious, and one of the most inexpensive kinds of shellfish you can buy. For the most tender shrimp, cool them down before cooking by either place them in the freezer for 10 – 15 minutes, or setting them in a bowl of ice water for 5 minutes. If your boiling them, drop them into boiling broth or court bouillon for one minute, and then turn off the heat and let stand for 10 minutes. Sauteed shrimp are done when they are firm and pink, in just 3 – 5 minutes. Grilled shrimp cook in about 7 minutes. No matter how you’re cooking them, shrimp cook fast! So make sure to keep a close eye on them. As soon as they turn pink, they’re done. (If they are already pink when you purchase them, they been cooked, and all you have to do is heat them up.) To make sure you don’t overheat shrimp, plunge them in cold water once they’ve turned pink to immediately stop the cooking process

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