Cambrian: Opinion

Crab a suitable substitute for crawfish in this tasty Cajun recipe

Joyce Lacour makes a roux for Cajun dishes on friend Sue Stoner's large kitchen range during a reunion in Dallas.
Joyce Lacour makes a roux for Cajun dishes on friend Sue Stoner's large kitchen range during a reunion in Dallas. Special to The Cambrian

You know you live in a small town when everyone knows you cut your hair, especially when it was 10 inches longer. Two years ago, I donated mine to Locks of Love, which makes wiglets for children, and I was delighted to report that many other Cambrians do the same.

Since then, my daughter Kathy has worked with another group, Chemo Diva, who accepted her and her friends’ donations, specifically designated for a fellow teacher after chemotherapy. My 8-inch segments will go into the central pool for anyone who needs it. Check out the group’s website if you are interested in doing similarly for adults at

So many of our fellow Cambrians have remarked about the mixed blessings of our lack of winter and the endless spring that will actually begin on the Vernal Equinox tomorrow, March 20. Spectacular sunrises and sunsets have abounded, and during the days in between, we have all enjoyed myriad blooms in the fields of wildflowers and the survivors in our gardens. Spring brings hope.

By the time you read this, you may or may not be able to check out the spectacular display of yellow Tidy Tips and Goldfields that Carolyn Shepherd and I appreciated on an adventurous jaunt out on Highway 58 to the Shell Creek Wildflower Preserve. 

If you are not growing your own spring vegetables, be sure to pick up some prime ones such as asparagus and Brussels sprouts at farmers market. I got some wonderful ingredients for today’s classic Cajun dish right here.

This idea was inspired by a reader who suggested that I run a traditional recipe to salute the folks in Louisiana who survived and recovered after Hurricane Katrina. According to my friend Joyce Lacour from Baton Rouge, La., they would be using crawfish, but I chose to use our more readily available crab. “Mind you, everyone has their own family or restaurant Cajun or Creole version,” she adds.

Crab Etouffée

  • 4 tblsp. butter
  • 4 tblsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • Fresh chopped tomatoes, or 1 14-oz. can diced tomatoes
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Cayenne pepper or Cajun seasoning
  • Hot sauce
  • 1 pound shelled crab

“First you make a roux,” Joyce always begins. In a large saucepan over low heat, melt the butter and add the flour, stirring about 10 minutes for a golden roux, or 20 minutes for an intense, more flavorful dark roux (my favorite). Add the vegetables, salt and pepper and sauté until wilted; stir in the tomatoes, and use a light hand with the Cajun seasoning and/or hot sauce.

Cover and simmer about 10 minutes; add in the crab and cook about 10 minutes until done and the sauce bubbles up through it. Etouffée means “smothered,” so you want the sauce to be nice and thick for any shellfish you might use. Makes four generous portions to serve over hot rice — we liked it with nutty brown rice. Check the Food Channel for several variations using shrimp, chicken and/or sausage.