Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Hangups, Sushi Rice & Cilantro


So I've been craving crawfish lately.  No, I don't shuck 'em and suck 'em.  I only eat the tail meat.  I have never had Etouffee before, so why not try it now.  Etouffee is kind of like veggies and crawfish or shrimp in a sort of gravy that is eaten over rice.  My husband has had a slight hangup over crawfish though.  The tail meat usually comes in a little pouch and it is already cooked.  Then I add it to a dish and cook it some more, and then it gets chewy.  So I decided that I would only add the crawfish in at the end just to warm it up.  Easy.

So I went into the kitchen to start on the Crawfish Etouffee. My wonderful husband, John, gave me a pressure cooker for Christmas.  Since I have always had issues with cooking rice, this was the perfect gift.  I can make rice in 11 minutes in the pressure cooker!  WOW!  I can even make 2 lbs of pinto beans in less than an hour in it, but that's a different story. Well, I put my rice in and let her go.  I started chopping my veggies, and then I chopped some Italian parsley and green onions to garnish the top of the Etouffee.  Everything was going great!  John usually helps me in the kitchen, and he came in to check the rice.  He looked at it, and it was really sticky.  We tasted it, and it just wasn't right.  So we threw that batch out thinking I overcooked it.  

I grabbed the bag of rice out and measured it out into the pressure cooker again.  It was at that point that I realized that I had sushi rice, not long grain.  Duh.  So he took the insert out of the pressure cooker, unbeknownst to me, and I proceeded to measure the rice again.  I dumped it in...but there was no bowl insert.  We looked down into the pressure cooker, and the rice had disappeared into the abyss.  John had to take the bottom of the pressure cooker apart and remove said rice.  

Okay.  Pressure cooker reassembled, long grain rice cooking, back on track.  I cooked the Etouffee and served it up, garnishing it with the green onions and parsley.  As we were eating it, John said to me, "did you put cilantro in here?"  Of course I didn't put cilantro in here.  This is Cajun food, and cilantro is certainly not Cajun.  He tasted it again, and said, "this is cilantro.  This is amazing, and the cilantro is like a flavor punch.  I love it!"  Still not believing that he could detect a flavor better than I could, I went to the fridge and checked...it was cilantro.  Oops.  I don't know how I could have missed it.  But John raved on and on and was so happy to have cilantro in it.  

So, after what could have been several potential disasters, my kitchen escapades actually turned out to be a slam dunk! If you're brave, maybe you'll try the cilantro too.  Just don't use sushi rice.

CRAWFISH ETOUFFEE
1 C chopped bell pepper (I used orange and green)
1 onion, chopped
1 large stalk celery, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 stick butter
1 C chopped fresh tomatoes
1/4 C flour
3 C seafood stock (or chicken stock)
1 T Worcestershire sauce
One 12-ounce pouch of crawfish tails, thawed
Cajun seasoning, to taste (I make Emeril's recipe for Creole seasoning)
4 green onions, sliced
2 T chopped Italian parsley (or cilantro if you're crazy like me)
Cooked white rice

In a large skillet or dutch oven, melt the butter over medium high heat.  Cook the bell peppers, onion, and celery until tender.  Sprinkle in the flour and cook for about 3-4 minutes, whisking constantly, to slightly brown the flour.  Add in the garlic, Cajun seasoning to taste, seafood (or chicken) stock, green onions, parsley (or cilantro), Worcestershire sauce, and tomatoes.  Cook, whisking occasionally, until the sauce is thickened and the tomatoes are soft.  Stir in the crawfish tails and cook about a minute to heat through.  Serve over rice.

*Here's a tip for making seafood stock.  The next time you peel shrimp or have clam shells or mussel shells, put them in a bag and into the freezer.  When you need the stock, boil them with a little onion, celery, and carrots and salt and pepper.  Strain and reserve the liquid for seafood stock.  You can store the stock in the freezer too.

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