Way back when, Justin Wilson and Paul Prudhomme were the only two “known” Creole/Cajun TV chefs. Emeril Lagasse of course is the one who attained true celebrity status and opened the way for lots of interest in Creole/Cajun cuisine. In the shortest explanation Cajun is viewed as the more “country” fare. Restaurants throughout South Louisiana and any place that bills itself in that fashion are likely to have a mix of the dishes with no distinction. A popular dish almost always included is crawfish or shrimp etouffee. Unlike jamabalaya or shrimp creole, which are tomato based, etouffee is roux-based and generally served as a thickened dish atop rice. It will be flavorful rather than hot although cayenne can be added for those who like extra kick and hot sauce is always an option.
A little known dish rarely found on a menu is tuna etouffee. It may sound a bit strange, but it is high protein, low fat, inexpensive and the calories and carbohydrates come in with how much rice is used and of course if dunking crusty French bread in it. Also roux-based, it can be thinned to resemble gumbo. So, if you’re in the mood to try something different and delicious, here it is.
Two 12-ounce cans tuna in water; 1 packet brown gravy mix (yes, that’s the quickie way instead of making roux from scratch); 1/2 cup diced onion, 1/2 cup diced sweet pepper (your favorite); 1 stalk celery diced, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, 1/4 – 1/2 tsp red pepper (optional). In the tradition of most Cajun dishes, saute the “trinity” of onion, celery, and peppers in olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat for 3-5 minutes until softened. Add tuna, then fill each can with water and add. Stir thoroughly, then sprinkle in gravy mix and stir briskly until blended. Add salt, pepper, stir thoroughly and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low, cover, and cook for 30 minutes. Check every 10 minutes for thickness and stir to make sure it isn’t sticking to the bottom of the pan. Prepare 1 cup of white or brown rice in either another pan or use one of the quick microwave packets. If you want a thicker etouffee, increase the heat to medium and stir frequently as you reduce the liquid. Serve over rice in a bowl.