A seafood style Louisiana creole cuisine with Spanish and French influence
With Mardi Gras right around the corner, this creole cuisine couldn’t be more timely. I’m a huge fan of southern food and as a traveller I’ve had the luxury of sampling the real deal. This was a point in my life where I used to travel more frequently than I do nowadays and I wasn’t as passionate about food as I am now. As a consequence, I missed many opportunities to learn about the foods of the places I visited. Don’t get me wrong I was always a foodie, though I didn’t immerse myself in food and drink until recently.
Essentially Jambalaya is a one pot dish that consists of rice, meat and vegetables. The meat can include anything from sausage, usually smoked andouille, chicken, and/or seafood such as shrimp or cray fish. With that being said it’s hardly surprising that the word jambalaya derives from the French word for ham – Jambon and Aya is thought to be the West African word for rice.
Jambalaya is like the southern version of Paella or Risotto, bearing the same wet consistently. There are a few versions of Jambalaya; Creole and Cajun. Creole (the one pictured here) sometimes referred to as ‘red jambalaya’ uses tomatoes. Usually the meat (sausage or chicken) is cooked first followed by the holy trinity (very important ingredient) which is celery, onion and green bell pepper. On a side note, I included red bell pepper in mine purely for color and a hint of sweetness.
The holy trinity is very similar to the latin America Sofrito, Haitian Epis and the English Caribbean island’s green seasoning. In short one would describe it as the base or should I say the foundation of the recipe and a very important step might I add. There would be no jambalaya without the holy trinity!
Cajun jambalaya differs in the respect that is contains no tomatoes and the selected meat and veggies are cooked separately from the rice. This version isn’t as popular as the creole Jamabalaya and tends to be eaten namely in the rural parts of Louisiana.
This cuisine was well received by my family, they even went back for seconds and thirds (greedy bunch!) and Charla was left with none. I’m certainly not complaining as an empty plate is a good sign that the food was good, so why not share the recipe with you guys right?
I used some of my homemade cajun seasoning which offers some bold flavours. It’s quite powerful so I only used a single tablespoon and added the necessary condiments separately. I chose to be more meticulous to ensure end result wasn’t overwhelming with potent spices or excess heat. If you like more heat that feel free to add another heaping more of the home made seasoning.
On a final note, please keep in min this is strictly SHRIMP jambalaya – no pork or chicken. If you wish to add more poultry then adjust the seafood to meat ratio. I used a total of 2lbs worth of shrimp, so only use 1lb and then another pound of meat instead. Also the shrimp I used was raw not cooked and added to the pan during the final stages of preparing the dish.
Tip from me – Don’t overcook your shrimp or the they’ll turn to a chewy, rubbery like texture, not nice!
- 2lb shrimp, peeled and de vained
- 1 medium sized onion
- 3 celery stalks, chopped
- 1 green bell pepper
- 1 red bell pepper
- 2 bay leaves
- 1tbsp of garlic powder
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1tbsp fresh thyme, stem removed
- ½ tsp paprika
- 2 tsp oregano
- 1 cup of tomato in juice
- 3tbsp organic tomato puree
- 1 tbsp cajun seasoning (see post)
- 4 cups of veggie stock (see post)
- 1½ cups of rice, thoroughly rinsed
- 2tbsp of coconut oil
- Salt and to taste
- Heat the pan on medium with the coconut oil.
- Add the holy trinity - bell peppers, chopped celery and onions.
- Saute the holy trinity for 5-6 minutes until the onions are translucent.
- Pour the tomato/puree into the pan then season with the garlic powder, cayenne, paprika, oregano, black pepper, thyme, bay leaves along with the cajun seasoning.
- Stir until all of the veggies and herbs are well blended.
- Add the stock and bring to a rolling boil.
- Sprinkle the rice into the pan and stir so everything is well combined
- Reduce the heat to low and simmer for approximately 50 minutes, covered. During the given time the rice will absorb the liquid, feel free to adjust your level of salt according to taste.
- Remove the lid then finally fold in the shrimp and allow the jambalaya to cook for a further 5 minutes or until shrimp is slightly pink in colour.
- Serve while hot.