Treebeards Shrimp Etouffee Recipe

Updated on March 31, 2020
SmartAndFun profile image

I strive to provide helpful information, including family-tested recipes as well as smart and fun methods for solving everyday problems.

You can make this buttery, oniony Cajun restaurant dish at home!
You can make this buttery, oniony Cajun restaurant dish at home! | Source

Legendary Recipe From a Legendary Restaurant

Treebeards is a legendary restaurant in Houston. What started in 1978 as a small lunch café serving downtown workers has grown into a five-location favorite with an almost fanatical, cult-like following.

It's no wonder the restaurant has found so much success. The menu features Cajun, Creole and Southern home-cooking favorites such as gumbo, boudin, fried chicken and red beans and rice, all made from scratch daily. The combination of the restaurant's downtown location, delicious food, casual atmosphere and fair prices proved so successful that within two years, the owners saw the necessity of moving to a larger location, which they found in downtown Houston's second-oldest building, the circa 1861 Baker-Meyer Building. Treebeards still occupies this location today.

Not long after moving to the larger location, the restaurant opened a second location within the Cloisters of downtown Houston's historic Christ Church Cathedral, which was founded in 1839 and is the oldest church in Houston that is still holding services in its original location. Three more locations were added over the years, also serving Houston's sprawling downtown, which is densely populated with workers each weekday.

Despite the restaurants' terrific success, original owners Dan Tidwell and Jamie Mize never sold out to a corporate chain. After more than 30 years of operation, when they decided to sell their small dynasty, they chose a pair of long-time Treebeards managers to become the new owners, enabling this beloved institution to remain locally owned by two Houston restaurateurs rather than by an impersonal corporate conglomerate.

Having lived in Houston during the late 1980s and early '90s, it was my pleasure to dine at Treebeards many times. I was very pleased when Tidwell allowed the Houston Chronicle to reproduce his restaurant's recipe for shrimp etouffee in their food section. My husband and I clipped the recipe from the paper immediately—yes, we cut the actual newspaper with actual scissors, as this was so long ago the internet did not yet exist.

We have made this shrimp etouffe many times over the years, and whether we serve it on a chilly New Year's Eve, snowy Super Bowl Sunday or during a summer crawfish boil, it is always a hit. Buttery, oniony, salty, just a bit spicy and filled with shrimp, this etouffee is rich and wonderful, yet at the same time deliciously light. I am so grateful that Mr. Tidwell shared his recipe with the public, and I feel extremely fortunate to have somehow managed to hang onto the small slip of yellowing newspaper we clipped from the newspaper so many years ago.

You and yours are sure to enjoy this very special recipe, as well.

Ingredients

For the etouffee:

  • 3/4 pound butter, (3 sticks)
  • 3 1/4 cups white onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups bell pepper, chopped
  • 4 cups celery, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1 teaspoon each: black pepper, garlic powder and thyme
  • 3 3/4 cups shrimp broth
  • 1/4 teaspoon liquid crab boil
  • 1 teaspoon Cajun red hot pepper sauce (Tabasco, Louisiana or other brand)
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 3 cups green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1 1/4 to 2 1/2 pounds Treebeards shrimp (see below)
  • 4 cups hot cooked rice, for serving

For the Treebeards shrimp:

  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 1/4 to 2 1/2 pounds raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 pinches each: garlic powder and salt
  • 1 pinch each: ground red pepper and ground blak pepper
  • 2 tablespoons green onion tips, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce, such as Thai nam pla
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste

Instructions

  1. First, prepare the Treebeards shrimp using the ingredients listed above under the "Treebeards shrimp" heading. Step one of this portion of the recipe is to heat the vegetable oil in a pot or large skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add all other Treebeards shrimp ingredients: raw shrimp, garlic powder, salt, red and black pepper, chopped green onion, fish sauce and tomato paste.
  3. Cook shrimp mixture over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp turns pink.
  4. Drain oil from shrimp and set aside.
  5. Now it's time to start preparing the etouffee itself. This portion of the recipe uses the ingredients under the "etouffee" heading. The first step of this part of the recipe is to melt the butter in a large pot.
  6. Add chopped white onion, bell pepper and celery to the metled butter. Cook over medium heat until the vegetables are soft, about 45 minutes. Stir regullarly so that the vegetables do not burn. As stovetops vary, you may need to turn your burner heat to low in order to prevent burning.
  7. In a small bowl, combine the salt, red and black pepper, garlic powder, thyme, shrimp broth, liquid crab boil, hot sauce and Worcestersire sauce. Set aside.
  8. Once the vegetables have become quite soft, stir in the flour and cook 1-2 minutes to thicken the mixture.
  9. Add the chopped green onion and chopped parlsey to the pot, as well as the spices/sauces mixture that you set aside earlier. Allow mixture to simmer about 5 minutes.
  10. Just before serving, add the prepared Treebeards shrimp to the pot and heat until the shrimp and all ingedients are heated through.
  11. Serve over rice with Cajun hot sauce on the side.

Photo Guide

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Cook diced vegetables in butter in a large pot. This photo shows the veggies during the cooking process -- but they're not ready yet.See how cooked down the vegetables have become compared to the photo above? Now they're ready!Cook the shrimp on the stovetop, in oil and spices "Treebeards style."
Cook diced vegetables in butter in a large pot. This photo shows the veggies during the cooking process -- but they're not ready yet.
Cook diced vegetables in butter in a large pot. This photo shows the veggies during the cooking process -- but they're not ready yet. | Source
See how cooked down the vegetables have become compared to the photo above? Now they're ready!
See how cooked down the vegetables have become compared to the photo above? Now they're ready! | Source
Cook the shrimp on the stovetop, in oil and spices "Treebeards style."
Cook the shrimp on the stovetop, in oil and spices "Treebeards style." | Source

Recipe Notes and Suggestions

This recipe makes about eight servings and allows for a varied amount of shrimp to be used, depending upon the amount of shrimp you have available, your appetite, and how many people you're feeding. One and one-quarter pounds should be sufficient if you are feeding fewer people, light eaters or simply prefer your etouffee to have a heavier concentration of rice and vegetables. Use two pounds or two and one-half pounds of shrimp, or even a bit more, to stretch this recipe to feed an extra diner or two, or two impress your guests with a bowl of etouffée that contains plenty of plump, pink shrimp.

If you don't mind cleaning and peeling crawfish (not my personal cup of tea) or are lucky enough to find some pre-peeled and pre-cleaned crawfish at your grocery store or fish market, you can substitute crawfish for the shrimp in this recipe.

Another option is to add sliced andouille sausage to the shrimp or crawfish, browning it lightly over medium heat before adding it into the etouffee.

Shrimp stock is not easy to find in my neck of the woods, although I was lucky enough to find some Goya powdered shrimp base, which is basically like bouillon cubes in powder form rather than pressed into cubes. If you cannot find shrimp stock or shrimp base at your local grocery store, you can substitute chicken broth or vegetable broth.

This recipe produces a greenish etouffee (the color comes manly from the vegetables), as flour is used to create a quick white roux to thicken the buttery sauce. Gumbo, on the other hand, calls for a dark roux, meaning the roux is cooked for a long period of time, which gives gumbo its deep brown color. If you prefer your etouffee to have a slight reddish or brownish cast, stir the 2 tablespoons of tomato paste directly into the etouffee rather than into the skillet when cooking the shrimp. This ensures more of the red color will make it into your pot, as a good amount of the tomato paste is drained away when you drain the oil from the shrimp.

Etoufee is a meal in itself, but of course everyone loves a side dish. Side dishes that go especially well with étouffée include hot buttered French bread or buttery garlic bread, sautéed collard greens, sautéed zucchini, red beans, black-eyed peas, or just about any type of green salad.

Etouffee is sometimes spelled etouffe, with only one "e" on the end. From what I've been able to find out, spelling it with two Es is correct, because when spelled this way it is the past tense of the French word "etouffer," which means to smother (as in shrimp smothered in a buttery, oniony sauce). In Texas, no matter how it is spelled, we tend to pronounce it "eh-two-fay." Louisianans, who of course know best when it comes to Cajun and Creole pronunciation, usually pronounce the word "ay-two-fay."

Shrimp etouffee is a rich and delicious addition to your Mardi Gras party, Superbowl Sunday feast, crawfish boil or any cozy evening at home.
Shrimp etouffee is a rich and delicious addition to your Mardi Gras party, Superbowl Sunday feast, crawfish boil or any cozy evening at home. | Source
My yellowed clipping from the Houston Chronicle. Remember when newspapers had a full-scale Cooking/Dining/Food section every Wednesday?
My yellowed clipping from the Houston Chronicle. Remember when newspapers had a full-scale Cooking/Dining/Food section every Wednesday? | Source
Treebeards restaurant in the Baker-Meyer Building, 315 Travis St.
Treebeards restaurant in the Baker-Meyer Building, 315 Travis St. | Source

Did you try this recipe? If so, please leave a rating and/or a comment.

Cast your vote for Treebeards Shrimp Etouffee

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, delishably.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)