Crawfish Etouffee

If there is one thing my oldest loves, it has got to be crawfish. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, but he’s my pickiest of eaters, 16 now, and when he tore into eating crawfish years ago I was flabbergasted. So on his most recent birthday I decided we would do a crawfish boil. I ordered 10 pounds of live crawfish from the Louisiana Crawfish Company figuring the ‘party’ would devour the boil. As much as my kids and I ate, the others simply ate a small handful, meaning I would plenty leftover. My kids and I probably spent a good 45 minutes, post party, peeling (and sucking the head juices) the tails to be used for a later dish. That dish being crawfish etouffe.

Crawfish Etoufee Recipe
Crawfish Etoufee Recipe

If you have never heard, nor tried crawfish etoufee, it is a standard dish found in the creole or cajun area of our nation. It’s almost a staple. Etouffee is translated to ‘smother’ in French terms, and I make mine with a darker roux only to deepen the flavor and making this a super comforting recipe.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick of unsalted butter (8 tbsp)
  • 4 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1 whole onion, diced
  • 2 cups of celery, diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup of green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 cups of chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 cups diced tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp creole spice mix
  • 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt, to your taste
  • 2 lbs crawfish tails (if frozen, make sure they are thawed)
  • Cooked jasmine rice, per serving
  • Flat leaf parsley, for garnishing

Sounds like a bunch of stuff, but it’s really pretty basic, and trust me it’s full of comfort.

Start by getting a large pot onto the stove on medium heat. Add in your butter, and melt it down. Once you begin seeing the butter foam, tilt the pot, and use a spoon to skim off just the top of the foam. Discard the foam. Return the pot back to the heat, and toss in the flour.

Stir the flour into the butter, and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring along the way. The flour will become blonde, then begin to darken a bit. Just be careful not to burn the flour.

Add in your onion, celery, bay leaf, garlic, carrot, and tomatoes, and cook for about 10-15 minutes in the roux, stirring along the way. Cook until the onions become translucent.

Ingredients for making Crawfish Etoufee Recipe
Ingredients for making Crawfish Etoufee Recipe

Once the onions turn translucent, add in the black pepper, salt, and cajun seasoning. Give a good stir, then add in your chicken stock. Stir well, and continue cooking on medium heat until the sauce thickens. I love this part and always have.

Once the sauce thickens, add in the crawfish tails. Stir again, and once the crawfish are warmed through, roughly 5 minutes or so, you are then ready to plate and serve.

Some like to serve rice on top, but my preference is to let the crawfish etouffee shine and serve on top of cooked rice.

So get a serving bowl ready, add in some cooked jasmine rice, and ladle on a nice pile of crawfish etouffee. Garnish with chopped parsley and dig in!

As much as my kids loved tearing through boiled crawfish, I cannot say they were much fans of this particular dish. Most likely due to the stew like texture. My wife and I on the other hand? Well, we imagined ourselves being back in New Orleans, walking the streets all day, and ending up in a great restaurant eating one of their famous dishes; crawfish etouffee.  I hope you enjoy!

Crawfish Etouffee
Author: 
Cuisine: Cajun or Creole
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 10
 
Ingredients
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter (8 tbsp)
  • 4 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1 whole onion, diced
  • 2 cups of celery, diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup of green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 cups of chicken stock
  • 1½ cups diced tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp creole spice mix
  • ½ tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt, to your taste
  • 2 lbs crawfish tails (if frozen, make sure they are thawed)
  • Cooked jasmine rice, per serving
  • Flat leaf parsley, for garnishing
Instructions
  1. Start by getting a large pot onto the stove on medium heat. Add in your butter, and melt it down. Once you begin seeing the butter foam, tilt the pot, and use a spoon to skim off just the top of the foam. Discard the foam. Return the pot back to the heat, and toss in the flour.
  2. Stir the flour into the butter, and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring along the way. The flour will become blonde, then begin to darken a bit. Just be careful not to burn the flour.
  3. Add in your onion, celery, bay leaf, garlic, carrot, and tomatoes, and cook for about 10-15 minutes in the roux, stirring along the way. Cook until the onions become translucent.
  4. Once the onions turn translucent, add in the black pepper, salt, and cajun seasoning. Give a good stir, then add in your chicken stock. Stir well, and continue cooking on medium heat until the sauce thickens. I love this part and always have.
  5. Once the sauce thickens, add in the crawfish tails. Stir again, and once the crawfish are warmed through, roughly 5 minutes or so, you are then ready to plate and serve.
  6. Some like to serve rice on top, but my preference is to let the crawfish etouffee shine and serve on top of cooked rice.
  7. So get a serving bowl ready, add in some cooked jasmine rice, and ladle on a nice pile of crawfish etouffee. Garnish with chopped parsley and dig in!

 

Thai Curry Mussels

It was not too long ago when fresh mussels were on sale at one of our local grocery stores. In the past, I typically would buy them frozen, then steam them but as they were fresh, I decided I would go all in. It was my kids last day of school, and I figured I would throw it out there and see if they would be keen on the idea of having them as an end of year celebration. Low and behold they did and I decided to buy a few pounds of mussels. What’s funny is that one of my pickiest of eaters (he’s getting much better) was stoked about eating them. So I arrived home, and got to work. At first I thought I would do a simple wine and butter sauce to steam the mussels in, but then I quickly turned my attention to making a killer Thai curry and coconut broth, introducing something a bit different to them. These Thai curry mussels had just the right amount of heat that did not distract from the flavor of the mussels, and my kid ate a ton of them.

Thai Curry Mussels
Thai Curry Mussels

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1/2 can of Thai green curry paste
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • 1 cup of water
  • 3 lbs fresh mussels

Simple stuff here, and feel free to use other types of curry paste. I used the prik king curry paste from Maesri which is a spicy ginger style of curry paste, and one that I really like, but feel free to use their red or yellow paste if you have that in stock.

To a large pot, large enough to house the mussels, get the heat going on medium heat. Add the canola oil and bring it to a light smoke, only a couple of minutes, then add in the green curry paste. Stir, and cook for a couple of minutes. Next add in the coconut milk, and water, and stir to incorporate and break down the curry paste. Once this comes to a simmer, add in the mussels.

Make sure that all of the mussels are closed, and feel free to scrub off any exterior beard material from the mussels ahead of time should they not already be cleaned.

Thai Curry Mussels
Thai Curry Mussels

Stir the mussels into the coconut curry mixture, then cover, and cook and steam the mussels until they all open up.

Please note, that any mussels that do not open up, then discard.

Once the mussels are all opened, pour the mussels and broth into a large serving bowl and dig in.

Feel free to serve these with some nice crusty bread, or spoon the broth over some cooked jasmine rice.

It was funny watching my oldest go to town on these. He could not stop eating them, and he loved the spice from the broth. These Thai curry mussels were a great way to end the school year that’s for certain. Hope you enjoy!

Chille Blue Crabs

Hands down, blue crabs are one of my favorite things to eat. Well, maybe not as they compete with pizza, tacos, and nachos, but you know what I mean. There is something about the blue crab that I truly love. Granted there is not a whole lot of crab meat on these little suckers, but it’s finger food, and to me finger food is not only fun, but it’s somewhat sexy. As I noted in the past, it’s hard to find blue crabs in Milwaukee. As I dissed an Asian market I used to go to, Anh Chau, only due to their crappy customer service, I have been frequenting a local market known as Mei Hua. I’ve been there enough where I chat with the owner, and as I always do I ask a lot of questions about produce, and seafood. I recently asked if they were going to get any crawfish, or better yet blue crab, and she sparked up, like what the heck did I know about blue crab! She stated she orders once a week, and that’s when I was sold.

Chinese Chilli Blue Crab Recipe

I pulled in the day she ordered, I think it was a Tuesday, or Thursday, and knew actually where to go. The box with what looked like to be stagnant crabs, that is until you poke them with the tongs.

One of the workers looked at me like I had no idea what the heck I was doing, and funny enough she was trying to help me (I am experienced at this, trust me, but I let her help only for my own entertainment), and we began using the tongs to toss them in a double paper bag. She insisted.

The kids were not home from school yet, and my wife was still at work, and that’s when I decided to clean these live crabs. When you do this, depending on how you feel, it’s something that you may or may not want your family around for, as basically as you are using a knife to take out the crab, ripping it apart, and tearing out it’s lungs, etc. I figured I would move quickly, and just have what I needed for the chilli crabs.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • ~ 10-15 live blue crabs, rinsed and cleaned
  • 1/4 cup of ketchup
  • 1/2 cup Sambal Oelek 
  • 1 large shallot, medium slice
  • 2 tbsp ginger, minced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tbsp fried garlic
  • 2 tbsp fresh cilantro, torn (optional)
  • napkins
  • 2 tbsp canola oil

Start by using tongs to grab your live crab. This is always fun as they like to attack your tongs. Flip the crab over onto it’s back, and puncture it with a sharp knife, right in the middle. Yes, this is often painful to watch, but it has got to be done. Now with your knife, split the crab in half, lengthwise. The important thing here is to remove the gills, up near the face, as well as removing the apron, near the bottom. Once those are removed, rinse the crab in cold water, and set aside, repeating the process.

Keep the crabs cold, covering with a bit of ice cubes. During this time, make the sauce.

To a small mixing bowl, add the ketchup, rice wine vinegar, water, and sambal oelek. Give a good stir.

Heat a large wok, or skillet on medium heat, and let this heat up for a few minutes.

Toss in the oil, and then toss in the shallots, garlic, and ginger. Stir fry that for a couple of minutes. Now add in the crabs.

How to make Chilli Blue Crabs

Toss those crabs in the garlic mixture, then add in the sauce mixture. Carefully stir, and toss until the crabs are coated.

Cook for about 15 minutes, if that, and then pour out onto a large serving dish.

Shower with the fried garlic and fresh cilantro, and dig in. Pull off the legs, split the body, pull and crack the claws, and go for it. Suck, splurp, and suck your fingers.

My wife and kids are not a big fan of the blue crabs, and as much of that is a bit of a disappointment,   I’m not going to point fingers and blame. That just means there is more for me!

Get a bib. Get some napkins. Dig in. This is a shell sucking, shell pulling, and little fork poker feat. Sweet, spicey, garlicky, and delicious. I felt bad when my wife came home, and I probably looked like a total mess as she was trying to have a conversation with me. Yes, it was that good.

If you are looking for a fun crab dish to eat, and a fun experience (cleaning crabs), go for it. You will not be disappointed, and by the way, I have yet to go back to Anh Chau, but they do still order blue crabs from what I understand, and with hope, they have picked up their service game.

Another one to try is my blue crab curry. Whoa.

 

Shrimp with Lobster Sauce

Let’s face it, we have pretty bad Chinese food in the greater Milwaukee area. Granted, if I had to chose a restaurant for takeout or dine in, it would be Fortune Chinese Restaurant in West Allis. I say that because the first time my wife and I entered, we were completely out numbered by Chinese patrons. As a matter of fact, I think we were the only caucasians in the place, and the place was packed. After dining in a few times, I came to realize they had the American-Chinese menu, and the bad ass Chinese only menu. With that said, there are American-Chinese dishes that we have known to love, and this is one of them, the shrimp with lobster sauce.

Shrimp with Lobster Sauce

The name itself is a bit misleading, especially if it is your first time ordering it. The dish itself has no lobster whatsoever, but it is is typically a chicken stock with simple ingredients, that have eggs mixed in to make it a creamy whiteish/yellowish based sauce. A sauce so comforting, and creamy, that goes perfect with shrimp. As my wife really loves shrimp hong sue, I figured I would knock out this recipe and she how she liked it. Let’s say she just fell in love with this one.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 lb shrimp, (16-20’s), peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 lb ground pork
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp Chinese Shaoxing wine
  • 2 cups of chicken stock
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dark sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 2 whole eggs, beaten
  • 1 green onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup of frozen peas
  • Jasmine rice, cooked

Start by adding a few cups of water to a sauce pan, and bring to a simmer. Add in the ground pork, and cook for about 5 minutes. This gets out any of the meat scum (if you will), and creates a cleaner sauce in my opinion. After 5 minutes, strain and rinse. Add the pork to a small bowl and reserve for cooking in a few minutes.

Next, get a large skillet out and bring to a medium-high heat. Add in the canola oil, and toss in the garlic, ginger, ground pork, and shrimp. Stir for a few minutes until the garlic is nice and fragrant but not browned.

Next, toss in the chicken stock, salt, pepper, sesame oil, and Chinese wine. Stir, and let this come to a simmer.

How to make Shrimp with Lobster Sauce

During this time, add the corn starch with the water, and stir until the corn starch is completely incorporated. This is called a slurry, and helps thicken sauces. It’s a hidden weapon in American-Chinese cooking, trust me.

Once you have a nice simmer, add in the slurry and continue to stir until the sauce thickens. Toss in the peas. You should have this awesome looking sauce that will remind you of all American-Chinese cooking. Next, add in beaten egg and continue to stir. The sauce should darken a bit when the egg is incorporated.

Shrimp with Lobster Sauce Recipe

Now you are ready to serve.

To a serving bowl, add some rice, and ladle in some of the shrimp with lobster sauce. Garnish with sliced green onions and dig in.

The end result is nothing short of comfort food. You get this awesome smooth sauce, succulent shrimp, that is balanced by subtle hints of garlic and ginger. It’s a quintessential dish that should be served more times than none. I hope you enjoy!

Shrimp with Lobster Sauce
Author: 
Recipe type: Chinese
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 lb shrimp, (16-20’s), peeled and deveined
  • ½ lb ground pork
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp Chinese Shaoxing wine
  • 2 cups of chicken stock
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dark sesame oil
  • ½ tsp cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 green onion, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup of frozen peas
  • Jasmine rice, cooked
Instructions
  1. Start by adding a few cups of water to a sauce pan, and bring to a simmer. Add in the ground pork, and cook for about 5 minutes. This gets out any of the meat scum (if you will), and creates a cleaner sauce in my opinion. After 5 minutes, strain and rinse. Add the pork to a small bowl and reserve for cooking in a few minutes.
  2. Next, get a large skillet out and bring to a medium-high heat. Add in the canola oil, and toss in the garlic, ginger, ground pork, and shrimp. Stir for a few minutes until the garlic is nice and fragrant but not browned.
  3. Next, toss in the chicken stock, salt, pepper, sesame oil, and Chinese wine. Stir, and let this come to a simmer.
  4. During this time, add the corn starch with the water, and stir until the corn starch is completely incorporated. This is called a slurry, and helps thicken sauces. It’s a hidden weapon in American-Chinese cooking, trust me.
  5. Once you have a nice simmer, add in the slurry and continue to stir until the sauce thickens. Toss in the peas. You should have this awesome looking sauce that will remind you of all American-Chinese cooking. Next, add in beaten egg and continue to stir. The sauce should darken a bit when the egg is incorporated.
  6. Now you are ready to serve.
  7. To a serving bowl, add some rice, and ladle in some of the shrimp with lobster sauce. Garnish with sliced green onions and dig in.