Kid-friendly Cajun "Étouffée" Stew Recipe - Sticky Fingers Cooking
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Recipe: Cajun "Étouffée" Stew

Recipe: Cajun "Étouffée" Stew

Cajun "Étouffée" Stew

by Dylan Sabuco
Photo by Ezume Images/
prep time
10 minutes
cook time
20 minutes
4-6 servings

Fun Food Story

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Cajun "Étouffée" Stew

Étouffée (pronounced AY-too-FAY) is a hearty, flavorful stew that's a staple of both Cajun and Creole cuisine and a beloved dish of Louisiana! The classic version combines shellfish with vegetables, spices, and a rich roux-based sauce. The name "étouffée" comes from the French word "étouffer," which means "to smother" or "to suffocate." As in, a delicious array of ingredients smothered in a rich, flavorful sauce—yum! Served alongside "festival" cornbread bites, rice, or pasta, étouffée is especially popular during Mardi Gras. However, I recommend making it anytime you crave a taste of the bayou!

Happy & Healthy Cooking,

Chef Erin, Food-Geek-in-Chief

Fun-Da-Mentals Kitchen Skills

  • chop :

    to cut something into small, rough pieces using a blade.

  • knife skills :

    Bear Claw (growl), Pinch, Plank, and Bridge (look out for trolls)

  • measure :

    to calculate the specific amount of an ingredient required using a measuring tool (like measuring cups or spoons).

  • sauté :

    to cook or brown food in a pan containing a small quantity of butter, oil, or other fat.

  • simmer :

    to cook a food gently, usually in a liquid, until softened.

  • sprinkle :

    to scatter small drops or particles of an ingredient evenly or randomly over food. 

  • stir :

    to mix together two or more ingredients with a spoon or spatula, usually in a circle pattern, or figure eight, or in whatever direction you like!

Equipment Checklist

  • Cutting board + kid-safe knife
  • Large pot
  • Liquid measuring cup
  • Dry measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Wooden spoon
  • Ladle


Cajun "Étouffée" Stew

  • 2 C mushrooms, about 8 to 10 (the type is your choice)
  • 1 bell pepper (any color works!)
  • 2 green onions
  • 2 garlic cloves or 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 C vegetable oil
  • 1/4 C all-purpose flour **(for GLUTEN ALLERGY sub gluten-free flour)**
  • 1 T sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 pinch ground black pepper
  • 1 pinch granulated or brown sugar
  • 1 C water

Food Allergen Substitutions

Cajun "Étouffée" Stew

  • Gluten/Wheat: Substitute gluten-free flour for all-purpose flour.


Cajun "Étouffée" Stew


Say a Cajun French "Bonjour!" (BOHN-zhoor) or "Hello!" Étouffée (AY-too-FAY) is a cajun stew, typically made with seafood. This version will use loads of vegetables instead, with some classic Cajun flavors. Cajun or Creole food is popular in the southern United States, especially in New Orleans, Louisiana. This style of cuisine is a melting pot of many cultures, such as French, Spanish, and African, that blended their recipes over time to create a new style called Cajun or Creole. Many of the ingredients used in this recipe are popular in many Cajun recipes.

chop + sauté

Start by chopping 2 cups of mushrooms, 1 bell pepper, 2 green onions, and 2 garlic cloves. Add all the ingredients to a large pot and sauté with 1/4 cup of vegetable oil over medium heat. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

measure + sprinkle

Then, measure 1/4 cup flour, 1 tablespoon sweet paprika, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 pinch of black pepper, and 1 pinch of sugar and sprinkle them into the skillet with the vegetables. Stir and cook for another 2 minutes.

simmer + stir

Add 1 cup of water and simmer the mixture for 15 minutes or more over medium low heat. Stir occasionally. The étouffée should be thick when it's finished cooking. Make sure to simmer the stew as long as possible before serving to maximize the flavor and thickness.

serve + enjoy

Serve the étouffée alongside Island Festival Cornbread Bites (see recipe) and wash it down with some Jamaican Punch (see recipe). Enjoy!

Surprise Ingredient: Mushrooms!

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Photo by Africa Studio/

Hi! I'm Toady! I'm a Mushroom!

“I'm also a fun guy! Get it? Fun guy—fungi? I'm good in salads, sandwiches, soups, stews, on pizza, with pasta, and stuffed with other yummy foods. Plus, you can cook and use me in recipes just like you would meat!"


  • The first mushrooms were thought to be cultivated in Southeast Asia, but it is not known why for sure. Perhaps someone discovered that mushrooms grew by accident and sought out a growing method.
  • All mushrooms are fungi, but not all fungi are mushrooms! There are an estimated 1.5 to 2 million species of fungi on planet Earth, of which only 80,000 have been properly identified. There are over 250 kinds of mushrooms that people eat.
  • Mushrooms are a kind of fungus that look like umbrellas! They grow in places like yards, forests, fields, and gardens. 
  • What is a fungus? It's a kind of living organism that is different from plants. In fact, mushrooms are more like humans than plants! 
  • Fungi walls are made of a fibrous substance called "chitin," rather than cellulose, like plants. Also, plants produce their own energy from the sun from photosynthesis, but mushrooms and other fungi don't need the sun for energy!
  • Many fungi eat by breaking down dead plants. However, other fungi feast on dead animals, bird droppings, manure, wallpaper paste, fruit, and living animals. So fungi are like nature's cleanup crew!
  • The yeast that makes bread rise is a type of fungi.
  • Mushrooms are sometimes called Toadstools! Can you picture a toad sitting on top of a giant mushroom?
  • Some mushrooms are good to eat, like portobellos, crimini, and shiitakes, while others are extremely poisonous. Never eat a mushroom you find growing outside unless you are with a mushroom expert!
  • The Honey Mushroom in the Blue Mountains of Oregon is the world's largest living thing. It is actually a mushroom colony and is believed to be at least 2,000 years old! It covers almost four square miles!
  • Some mushrooms live entirely underwater.
  • In the Amazon rainforest, mushrooms release spores into the air, which creates the surface for water to condense and can trigger rain. The rain then causes more fungi to grow.
  • Before the invention of colorful synthetic dyes, people used mushrooms for dyeing wool and other natural fibers.
  • Greek warriors ate mushrooms to increase their strength before battle.
  • Mushrooms are one of the vegetable world's substitutes for meat. 

Anatomy & Etymology

  • The largest mushroom you'll find in most grocery stores is the portobello. It is the fully grown version of the Agaricus Bisporus species and has a large, brown cap. Smaller, immature mushrooms may be brown, like the cremini, or white, like the button.  
  • Mushrooms contain more than 90 percent water!
  • Some mushrooms glow in the dark! They produce light through a process called bioluminescence. People used to carry these in ancient times to light their way through the forest. 
  • Mushrooms can grow super fast. Once they break through the surface of whatever they're growing on, they can double their size in just one day.
  • The word "mushroom" comes from late Middle English for any fungus with a fleshy and fruiting body. It is derived from the Old French "mousseron," from the late Latin "mussirio."

How to Pick, Buy, & Eat

  • Wild mushrooms can be found in many wooded areas. If you choose to harvest wild mushrooms, make certain you have a professional identify your pick. Many mushrooms may resemble safe mushrooms but are actually poisonous!
  • Buy mushrooms with whole, intact caps, and be sure they are not wet or slimy!
  • They will smell strong, sweet, and earthy when fresh. 
  • Rinse mushrooms before you slice or cut them. Whole mushrooms won't absorb much water, while cut mushrooms will. Wait to rinse mushrooms until right before you cook them; otherwise, they'll turn slimy.
  • Mushrooms can be broiled, sautéed, and grilled. Mushrooms can be chopped or sliced and added to other dishes. Portobello caps are large enough to eat like a hamburger on a bun!
  • The mushroom cap is most often the part that is cooked and eaten. The stem can be fibrous and woody but will add flavor to vegetable or meat stock.
  • Mushrooms pair well with balsamic vinegar, fresh herbs (like oregano, rosemary, thyme, and cilantro), marinara, spinach, leafy greens, tomatoes, goat cheese, mozzarella, cream-based sauces, garlic, and onions.
  • Store mushrooms in a partially closed resealable plastic bag to ensure air circulation without drying out the mushrooms.


  • Mushrooms are low in calories and are an excellent source of B vitamins. These vitamins are needed for healthy cell and brain function, and they help prevent cancer and stress.
  • Even though mushrooms don't use the sun for energy, they use it to produce vitamin D, just like humans do! Vitamin D is essential to our bones! It keeps them strong and regenerating. 
  • Mushrooms have essential minerals such as selenium, copper, phosphorus, zinc, and potassium. Copper helps the body build red blood cells and is necessary for the health of our bones. Selenium is an antioxidant that may decrease cancer risk. 
  • Mushrooms have been used successfully in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years to treat many health conditions. Western medicine is finally beginning to recognize and utilize some of the medicine mushrooms naturally contain.


What is Étouffée?

Photo by Aimee Lee Studios/
  • Étouffée is a type of stew found in Cajun and Creole cuisines in the southwest part of the state of Louisiana, especially in its most popular city, New Orleans. 
  • The stew consists of a mix of vegetables and shellfish, like crawfish or shrimp, cooked in a Cajun or Creole seasoned sauce or roux and served over rice. 
  • Some say that étouffée was first served in a Louisiana restaurant in the 1950s; however, it may have originated in the late 1920s.
  • The word "étouffée" comes from the French verb "étouffer," which means to stifle or smother.

Let's Learn About New Orleans!

Photo by Andriy Blokhin/
  • New Orleans is a city-parish in Louisiana and is the state's most populous city. 
  • France built New Orleans before Louisiana became a US territory in 1803 when then-President Thomas Jefferson purchased it from France. Guess how much he paid for it? Only 15 million dollars! 
  • French settlers used the term "Creole" to distinguish people born in Louisiana from those born in countries like Spain and France, from which many early inhabitants came. 
  • In 1796, in New Orleans, the first opera was performed in the US.
  • Jazz music was born in New Orleans! Experts can't decide if it appeared in the late 19th century or the early 20th century, but they know it quickly gained popularity throughout the world.
  • The Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, the longest bridge over a body of water worldwide, is located in New Orleans! 
  • Creole cuisine comes from New Orleans—famous dishes are jambalaya, gumbo, étouffée, and King Cake! It's a tradition for Mardi Gras partygoers to eat King Cake, baked with a small plastic baby inside. The person who has the slice with the baby is expected to host the party the following year.

That's Berry Funny

Why did the Fungi leave the party? 

There wasn't mushroom to dance!

That's Berry Funny

Why did the Mushroom get invited to all the parties? 

Because he's a fungi! (fun guy)

That's Berry Funny

What kind of socks do you need to plant bell peppers? 

Garden hose!

That's Berry Funny

Did you hear the joke about the fungus? 

I could tell it to you, but it might need time to grow on you.

Lettuce Joke Around

Why didn't the bell peppers do archery?

Because they didn't habanero.

That's Berry Funny

I’m allergic to green onions.

Every time I eat them, I break out in chives!

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