When cooking dishes with Cajun spices, you can turn something ordinary into an exotic meal. Cajun cuisine is known for its rustic elements. Cajun immigrants are essential French-speaking Acadians who were deported to Louisiana. Celery, onion and bell peppers are main ingredients of Creole and Cajun cuisines. In traditional French cuisine, there’s something similar, called mire poix, which is consisted of diced carrots, celery and onions. However, Cajun cuisine is more flexible. As an example, you can add dried cayenne pepper, green onions, bay leaf and parsley into many Cajun dishes. There are no set rules; you may even add sassafras, crayfish and sugar cane. Cajun cooking is also known for African, Portuguese, Italian and Spanish influences. Various cooking methods can be used, such as stewing, injecting, pan broiling, etouffee, deep frying, boiling, braising, grilling and barbecuing. Because people in the New World had a harder life, game meat can be added into Cajun cuisine. Other than rice, corn could be used as well.
Due to the abundance of catfish in the Mississippi area, it has replaced the use of red fish and trout. Cajun cuisine also uses Dark Roux, which is a thickening agent, made from olive oil and flour; or lard oil and flour. Etouffee and gumbo needs to be thicker to increase the taste. Although Cajun dishes appear to be well cooked, you should avoid overcooking the ingredients. High temperature could easily destroy ingredients. You need to stir the food regularly. Light roux could also be used for light and more delicate dishes. Acadian stocks are usually made from shellfish, crawfish head or shrimp, it’s also heavily seasoned. Boudin is a unique type of sausage, which is made from pork, pork liver, garlic, rice, green peppers and various spices. Here are popular Cajun dishes that you should know:
- Gumbo: The word Gumbo came from western Africa, to specify a type of stew with thickening agent and distinct flavour. A classic gumbo dish is made from Andouille, a Cajun sausage and chicken. Depending on market availability, ingredients may vary. Okra, potato and carrot can be added as well.
- Jambalaya: Jambalaya is a rice-based dish with meat, seafood or various other ingredients. Hot chilli peppers, celery and green peppers can be added as well. Jambalaya is made using light stock. For beginners, it is easier to prepare jambalaya, because handling dark roux for gumbo can be quite challenging.
- Crawfish Boil: This delicious dish is made of crawfish, onions, corn and potatoes. To add flavour to the stock, a Crawfish boil is added. It’s a small muslin bag that contains cayenne peppers, mustard seed, bay leaves and other spices. Hot sauces can be added to improve the overall taste. One common habit when eating crawfish boil is to “suck the head” to get the rich, tasty juice of the crawfish.
- Poutine: It is a supper based on a popular dish from French, called Beef Bourguignon and it’s served with thick gravy. Poutine is often served with white rice. Using the right spice and herb can make a huge difference between having a spectacular and mediocre meal.