New Orleans Inspired Tofu Étouffée

My recent trip to New Orleans was quite inspiring when it came to trying and exploring new and dynamic flavors.  I was exposed to amazingly delicious Creole and Cajun cuisine (I learned that these are distinct from one another) and wanted to explore making a vegan version of a New Orleans classic, Crawfish Étouffée.  The étouffée sauce is traditionally made with butter and a meat or seafood stock, but I used soy butter and a veggie broth instead.  I also made it with pan fried tofu instead of crawfish.  I based my recipe off of Emeril’s recipe (because who is more of an expert than he is when it comes to classic New Orleans cuisine ?!).  https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-lagasse/crawfish-etouffee-1-3645763

I thought this rich, yet plant-based étouffée would go well with a nice garlic bread to soak up the sauce.  While the traditional étouffée is served with long grain white rice, I didn’t have that at home and I have Basmati rice, which serves a similar thickness and texture.  This is not an authentic étouffée recipe, but I thought it turned out to be very soothing and delicious while keeping its plant-based integrity.

Vegan and Vegetarian

Servings: 5-6

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Ingredients:

Etouffée:

  • 2 cups of Basmati rice (I use Trader Joe’s – you can follow the directions that are provided)
  • 6 tbsp of soy butter (I prefer Earthly Balance)
  • 4 tbsp of flour
  • 1/2 lemon juiced
  • 2 tsp of Worcestershire sauce
  • 2.5 cups of vegetable broth/stock
  • 1 cup of diced tomatoes
  • 6 dashes of hot pepper sauce (my favorite is Cholula)
  • 2 small-medium sized finely chopped onions
  • 2 medium celery sticks chopped
  • 1 Banana Pepper or bell pepper (I prefer banana pepper because it’s tastier) chopped
  • 1/2 of a container of Baby Bella mushrooms
  • 6 cloves of garlic finely chopped or minced
  • 1 handful of parsley for garnish
  • 3 green onions chopped
  • 2 bay leaves for the sauce
  • 2 tsp of thyme (fresh or dried)
  • 2 tsp of salt
  • 2 tsp of black pepper
  • 1.5 tsp fo red pepper
  • 1.5 tsp of paprika
  • 1.5 tsp of cayenne
  • 2 tsp of “Slap Ya Mamma” cajun seasoning

Tofu:

  • 1lb of tofu (Trader Joe’s Sriracha tofu was really great for this and you don’t have to drain it or marinate it!)
  • 2 tsp of Tamari sauce
  • 2 tsp of liquid smoke
  • 2 tsp of olive oil

Directions:

Tofu:

  • Start to prepare the rice.
  • Please see my other recipes for preparing tofu, make sure it is drained (if it’s not the Trader Joe’s Sriracha one) for about 30 minutes.
  • Add the olive oil to the pan and once it’s warm, put in the tofu.
  • Saute on each side for about 5 minutes.
  • Once you flip it over once, add the Tamari and Liquid Smoke sauce.
  • Once the tofu is browned, take it off the stove, and keep it warm while you make the étouffée.

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Étouffée:

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  • In a large saucepan (that has a bit of depth to it since you’re making a thick sauce with a lot of veggies), melt 4 tbsp of soy butter and whisk in the flour – do this slowly and whisk the flour in tablespoon by tablespoon.  As Emeril suggested, your roux should have a color similar to peanut butter.
  • Once your roux is made, add in the onions, celery, Banana or bell pepper, and mushrooms.  Sauté for about 5 minutes, then add in the garlic, bay leaves, half of the parsley, and green onions and sauté for about 1 more minute.
  • Now it’s time to make the sauce!  Add the stock, diced tomatoes, Worcestershire, hot sauce, and all of the spices/seasonings to the pan, stir, and bring to a boil.  Once it comes to a boil, gently stir the top of the sauce, reduce the heat to very low and simmer for about 30 minutes uncovered, stirring occasionally.
  • At the end, stir in the lemon juice, the rest of the green onions, and parsley.  You can simmer the sauce for an additional 10 minutes.  Add and stir in the remaining 2 tbsp of soy butter.  Taste and see if you’d like to add the spices of your choice.
  • Throw in the tofu at the very end so it doesn’t lose its crispiness.

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Garlic Bread:

The garlic bread soaks up the étouffée perfectly even if you eat it with rice.  My garlic bread recipe is based off of this recipe: https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/garlic-bread-106583.  I have always found it to be simple and flavorful.

Ingredients:

  • 1 baguette or loaf of Italian bread
  • 4 cloves of garlic that are finely chopped or minced
  • 1/4 cup of soy butter
  • 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 handful of finely chopped parsley
  • 1 tsp of salt

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Put the bottom of your loaf in foil and cut the bread into diagonal, horizontal slices, but not all the way through so it’s still a cohesive, attached loaf.
  • As you’re waiting for the oven to preheat, melt the soy butter in a bowl in the microwave for about 30 seconds. Stir in the oil, basil, garlic, and salt with the butter until it is smooth.  Then add in the parsley.
  • Using a brush, dip the brush into the paste, and polish it on both sides of each of the garlic bread slices.  Then completely wrap the bread in the foil.
  • Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, open the foil and bake it for 5 more minutes so you get that crispiness.

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Bon appetit!  Enjoy a New Orleans classic without as much of the ethical/health guilt!

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