I first learned about Cajun flavor when I started eating and making Jambalaya rice. I usually buy it in a box and I would just add meat or seafood into the rice. Coming from a rice-bowl society in Southeast Asia, the concept and taste of Jambalaya rice is still new to me. Since my introduction to this flavor, it opened my eyes further to the diversity of the flavor traditions in Southern United States, specifically Louisiana.
You can say that Cajun flavor found an unexplored territory in my palate. That was my first encounter with Cajun cooking. Then I started making soup Gumbo, which is another Louisiana cuisine but in a Creole tradition. A first, it got me confused about its distinction with Cajun. So I started digging for facts and I found the simplest explanation there is on the web.
It says, the basic difference between Louisiana’s Cajun and Creole cuisines is that the latter (creole) uses tomatoes either fresh, paste or sauce while the former (Cajun) does not.
When it comes to seasonings, there are also a few differences. Cajun uses 3 kinds of pepper – black, white and cayenne pepper as well as other spices such as onion powder, garlic powder, dried oregano, dried thyme, and dried basil. Creole on the other hand uses paprika and all Cajun spices except white pepper and dried basil. There you have it; I hope I made a clearer differentiation between Cajun and Creole.
Meanwhile, this Cajun Shrimp recipe that I made is sautéed and then simmered in a thick sauce just like a stew. Instead of roux (flour-and-butter mixture) I used cornstarch to thicken the sauce. I also added chopped cilantro to add color to the dish. And I used ginger to sauté the shrimp along with garlic and onions; these are typical Asian ingredients when sautéing seafood. As you can see, this recipe doesn’t only fall in one but it cuts across more flavor traditions which only proves that cooking can challenge or even defy boundaries.
Thank you for reading and happy cooking ❤
CAJUN SHRIMP STEW
Yield: 4-5 Servings
* Shrimp – 2 lbs. de-shelled
* Cilantro – 2 cups, chopped (frozen or fresh)
* Ginger – 8 oz. peeled, cut in strips (OPTIONAL)
* Garlic – 5 cloves, chopped
* Onion – 1 medium, chopped
* Spices – 2 tsp. each
Onion powder, garlic powder, dried oregano, dried thyme,
black pepper, cayenne pepper, white pepper and dried basil
* Sauce mixture:
– Soy sauce – 3 tbsp.
– Red wine vinegar – 3 tbsp.
– Brown sugar – 2 tbsp.
– Corn starch – 3 tbsp.
– Water – ¼ cup
* Salt – as needed
1. Fully thaw the shrimp and wash.
2. Gather all the ingredients before cooking.
3. Make the sauce by combining all the sauce mixture ingredients in a sauce pan. Bring to a simmer. Set aside.
4. Sauté ginger until slightly brown. Add garlic, then the onions.
5. Once the onions caramelized, add the shrimp. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Cover to simmer for 5 minutes or until shrimp turns pink.
6. Add all the spices.
7. Add the sauce mixture. Taste the sauce and add more salt if needed.
8. Add the chopped cilantro.
8. Mix well and turn off the heat.