When I was in my 20’s and worked in the Senate, I had some friends move to Louisiana to work some local political races. I was thrilled- New Orleans had always been towards the top of my travel bucket list and a place I was dying to visit. I wasn’t particularly drawn to Mardi Gras- but I definitely wanted to experience the French Quarter, Bourbon Street, drink hurricanes (which I found out I am unfortunately allergic to- which is a long story in and of itself)- and eat my weight in gumbo, boudin, po’ boys, crawfish, beignets, and gallons of étouffée. There is no doubt that I love food in general- but I really, really love creole food. It’s spicy, bursting with flavor, full of peppers and onions- and often loaded with crawfish and other seafood. I was in heaven!
After finding an absolute steal on langoustine- a European crustacean kind of like a cross between a lobster and a crawfish- I wanted to come up with a delicious étouffée like the ones I sampled in New Orleans. This Langoustine Étouffée is an amazingly rich, complex, slightly sweet and spicy dish- and it is incredibly easy to make at home!
Langoustine are a really easy ingredient to work with- but being in Northern Colorado, they aren’t something I come across often. Since Trader Joe’s just opened in Fort Collins, however, I rediscovered my love for them! I usually shirk from buying pre-cooked seafood, but I’ve never had any fishy flavor with their langoustines, and at $7.99, it is a total steal and a relatively inexpensive addition to make this dish budget friendly for a dinner party (compared to other seafood options).
A big part of the flavor of this dish comes from layering lots of sautéed peppers and onions, as well as making a roux to thicken the tomato based sauce. This adds a little time to the cooking- but don’t rush it. All you need to do is stir occasionally to be sure they don’t burn- but give them time to brown and break down. This won’t take more than 30 minutes- pour yourself a cold beer, and give it time!
You can also make the étouffée a little before serving- just add a little more stock to make it a bit thinner so you can keep it heated on the stove until you’re ready to go- and leave the langoustines off until the end. This will prevent the dish from drying out or the fish from getting too gummy.
Since I’m using pre-cooked langoustine from Trader Joe’s, you really just want them to heat up – you do NOT want to overcook them. If you’re using fresh langoustine (lucky you!!) or crawfish, add them in with about 5-8 minutes on high to cook until they are opaque and pink- like shrimp.
Stirring your mixture is a really important part of this dish. It’s not going to look all that delicious in the beginning- it will look a bit pale. But give it time to cook down, and rich delicious flavor will build on itself as your étouffée color begins to get deeper and darker.
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 bell peppers, diced
- 2 onions, diced
- 8 cloves of garlic, diced
- 2 tbsp flour
- ½ cup milk or cream
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- 1 cup fish stock
- 2 tsp emeril's essence
- 12oz. langoustine tails- cooked or uncooked (add 5 minutes for uncooked)
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp+ tabasco sauce
- 1 cup rice
- cilantro, to garnish
- In a large, heavy pan, heat olive oil on medium until shimmery.
- Add onions and peppers, stirring occasionally, until browned.
- Add garlic.
- In small pan, combine flour and milk and heat on medium, stirring constantly, until mixture browns slightly to create a roux.
- Add roux to vegetables, let sautee and stir occasionally for two minutes.
- Add stock, spices and tomatoes, cook on medium until sauce browns and reduces to a gravy consistency.
- Cook rice in another pan- 1 cup of long grain white rice to two cups of water.
- When rice is ready, scoop a rounded ½ cupful into a bowl, and top with étouffée.
- Garnish with cilantro or parsley and enjoy!