Back in the day, that day being our time spent in San Francisco, one of our favorite restaurants was The Elite Cafe. Loved the neighborhood atmosphere of it, loved the oyster bar, loved the cozy booths if you could get them. The blackened steak, awesome. Clam chowder, yummy. But above all, the shrimp etouffee. Tiny rock shrimp in a yummy, yummy sauce. Oh, so very good. Love love loved it. And really, there aren’t many cajun places around here, and if they have an etouffee, it’s usually crawfish, which I just don’t enjoy as much. So, maybe two years ago, I took my friend Neva to San Francisco for the day. We had a wonderful time at some of my very favorite places. It was fun to share ‘my’ city with her, to show her the neighborhoods where I used to live, the restaurants where I used to dine. We went to dinner at the Elite, and they had changed ownership, and nixed the etouffee. ACK! How could they DO that? (Little sidenote here to say that I looked on Citisearch at reviews, and they check pretty often, and reply to folks, and it looks like perhaps they’re planning on bringing back the etouffee at some point…but that comment was kinda old by my impatient standards.) Sorry to say, I’ll not be returning to The Elite Cafe until it’s on the menu. Everything we had there was wonderful, but there are so many wonderful restaurants in the City, and sadly, I want what I want when I go there.
So, what’s a girl to do? I’ll tell you…she makes her own darned etouffee, and hopes for the best. Anyone out there have a great etouffee recipe? I’m thinking I might make this one, which I found on Food Network. It’s a Paula Deen recipe…I’ve never tried any of hers before.
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup all-purpose flour, plus extra flour, optional
1 cup chopped yellow onion
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
1 cup chopped celery
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, more if desired
1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
1/2 cup minced green onions, plus extra for garnish
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley leaves
2 to 3 dashes hot sauce (recommended: Tabasco)
1 (8-ounce) can clam juice
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes (recommended: Ro’tel)
Salt (Cajun seasoning has salt already)
2 pounds small or medium shrimp peeled and deveined (recommended: 31/35 size count)
1/2 stick butter
Diced green onions, for garnish
Note: To make roux, use oil instead of butter, because butter burns
Make the roux, mix oil and flour in a large heavy saucepan over low heat. Whisk flour into the oil to form a paste. Continue cooking over low heat and whisk continuously, until the mixture turns a caramel color and gives off a nutty aroma, about 15 to 20 minutes. To the roux, add the onion, green pepper, celery, and garlic and cook over low heat about 5 minutes, until the vegetables are limp. Add the black pepper, white pepper, cayenne pepper, Cajun seasoning, green onions, parsley, and hot sauce to taste. Add 1 can clam juice and the tomatoes with their juice, stir to blend. Add the salt, starting with 1 teaspoon, then add more if needed. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Add shrimp and stir. It will take about 3 minutes for shrimp to cook, don’t overcook. Remove from heat. Add the butter and stir; the heat from the dish will melt the butter. Transfer the etouffee to a tureen, serving bowl, or if you prefer, over rice. Garnish with the green onions.