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Shrimp Stew

I bought 2 pounds of beautiful shrimp at a grocery store in town.  I know.  It’s a shame.  But most of us lost what was in our freezers after the storms, and we won’t replenish until the May season.  When I cleaned them, I saved the heads and the shells to make this . . .

shrimp stock Shrimp stock.  Cover the contents in plenty of water, bring to a boil,

shrimp stock 2then reduce heat, cover and simmer for about an hour, making sure the water does not cook out.  Don’t pay any attention to those beady black eyes.  Those were the hardest things for me to look at when I cleaned my first shrimp over 30 years ago!  You get used to it.  I don’t even notice them now.  Strain and cool to use later in stews and gumbos.

We are going to use ours in shrimp stew, cher!

Bayou Woman Stove
Start with a heavy sauce pan, and turn the fire/heat to medium, warming the pan first.  (See the trusty kettle back there full of water heating up, too?)

“First we make a roux!”   (pronounced “roo” for those of you who aren’t familiar with Bayou or Cajun cooking.)

Add one half cup oil.  You can use just about any kind you like.  This was vegetable oil, but some folks use shortening, butter, olive oil. And as Vance mentioned in a previous post, heart-healthy folks brown their flour without oil.  Let the oil get pretty hot.

flourNext add a half cup of all purpose flour (again there are heart healthy ways) and stir, getting out all the lumps.  Stir until it’s velvety smooth.

Now comes the tricky part.  Don’t leave the pot!  You must hang with a roux, stirring and keeping a close eye on it so it does not brown too quickly.  There is a fine line between just right and burnt!  If you find it’s cooking too fast, remove the pot from the heat for a couple minutes and proceed again.

roux1This is how it looks after about 10 minutes of cooking.

After about 20 minutes.

After more than 30 minutes, the roux looks like rich chocolate.  That is what you’re aiming for.  And it has a nice brown, nutty aroma.

To this we add one large or two small onions chopped.  The indian women say that the onions stop the browning of the roux, so make sure it is the dark color you want before adding the onions.

After the onions look like this, it’s time to . . .

celery, pepper, garlic
add the chopped celery, bell pepper, and garlic (about 3 cloves).  Saute` for about 10 more minutes.

Now it’s time to add the shrimp,

Shrimp stew 2

and cook until they look like this and all the contents seem to blend together.

shrimp stock
Add about 2 cups of shrimp stock and stir, checking thickness.  It should not be quite as thick as gravy but thicker than soup. If you want more seafood flavor, add more stock than water.  Now add hot water from your kettle to continue reaching the desired consistency.   Taste.  Season with salt, pepper, cayenne, or a Cajun seasoning mixture of your choice.

Simmer on low for another half hour, letting all the flavors blend.

And enjoy!


We eat ours with a side of plain, creamy potato salad made with red potatoes, boiled eggs, mayo, a little mustard, salt and pepper.  Talk about good!

2 pounds shrimp, cleaned
1/2 cup oil   1/2 cup flour
2 onions chopped, 4 stalks celery, 1 bell pepper, 3 cloves garlic
Seafood stock, hot water, Cajun seasonings
Makes about 8 big servings

Let’s see if we can stir up a little debate here on how to make shrimp stew!  LOL!


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  1. Finally a recipe we can agree on! Well, the stew anyway. The Potato salad is another story. LOL Do y’all eat your salad cold or room temp?

    1. Steffi – As Dotter said, this one is made right before we eat and is warm because that way it’s like eating SUPERCHARGED mashed potatoes and gravy, see? Now, potato salad for a barbecue is different–chunkier, cold, more additives!

  2. I’ll be the first to tell ya… in our house, potato salad with gumbo or stew is warm! Mommer forgot that we put boiled eggs mashed up with the potatoes in it too. (Not much mustard… I’m usually the potato salad maker.)

  3. Finally! the shrimp stew recipe I’ve been waiting for. But wait! I’m not going to be there until Friday night. It’ll all be gone by then!

  4. Mmmmmm! This makes my mouth water……all on a night that I am fasting for blood work in the morning. We’re going to have to get some shrimp here in FL and make some of this!

  5. This looks SO awesome! I haven’t cooked a lot of seafood other than grilling shrimp and fish. We used to LOVE fried fished coated in spicy cornmeal, but then my husband had a mild heart attack and we had to really limit the frying. We grill a lot now.

    By the way, that is a perfect looking roux!

  6. I knew I was right!!! For years, recipes I’ve seen wanted you to add the trio in right after you added the oil, I always waited to brown my flour because it wouldn’t brown with the veggies!!! Thank you BW for validating my common sense!! Wonderful pics on how to, that really shows the length & color you are trying to achieve to make a proper roux. I love your recipes. Still waiting for my dirty rice recipe….lol

  7. Mais, but that looks good. Just like my Mama made it, only she addedlots of ground red pepper and called it etouffee.

  8. Cooked some for supper tonight! The only thing that would have made it better, is if I could have eaten it hot! I had Oral surgery this a.m. and can’t have anything hot today. There are some leftovers though!

  9. The proportion of roux to onion and other vegetables was wrong. As soon as I added the onion the liquid became a thick paste requiring addition of stock so onions could simmer likewise when I added celery and bell pepper. About a pound and a half of shrimp worked for me.

    1. Peter, I appreciate your input, however, I’ve been cooking this for 35 years and it’s not very nice to tell an old cook that her proportions are wrong. : )

  10. I love the recepie.. I am also a southern Louisiana native and this is delicious
    .I make this once a month.. I also add crawfish and crab meat and I use chicken stock but it is so good!!!! Thanks so much would like to see more of ur post…..

    1. Jamie! Thanks for stopping down the bayou and leaving a note! Please feel free to read other stuff here. There’s about four years of archived recipes and stories! I’m sure it’s very good with chicken stock as well! Nice to have you here! BW

        1. Okay, Jamie, on the Home Page, in the left-hand column is a Drop-down Menu for “Categories”. Click that and choose “Bayou Woman Cooks” and it will take you to a page that looks like this: From there, you can click the titles and go to those pages, OR click “next” and “previous” to move between the pages. They are listed in Chronological order and go back to August 2007!!! Good luck and happy bayou cooking! Let me know if I can be of any help at all! BW