There’s a reason people say that Louisiana is a whole other world. We’ve got the best food there is, for one! Cajun cuisine is definitely worth a try if you’re here in Baton Rouge, or if you just want to be adventurous and try something new. Here are some things you’ll need to know.
For many dishes, you start with a roux. Any good Cajun uses oils or animal fat instead of butter like the French. It sounds simple but it can be difficult to cook – it involves stirring the fat and flour constantly. A good roux will make your gumbo alive with flavor and a bad roux will make it unedible. Roux is essential when making crawfish étouffée, one of my favorite dishes. It is essentially a thick stew that is cooked by “smothering.”
Now, if you go to a crawfish boil, you will hear people say, “pinch the tail and suck the head.” That is the secret to eating crawfish the right way: by pinching the bottom, you loosen the meat enough so that you can just suck it out the front. If you want to cook them yourself, start with live crawfish, clean those suckers really well, and be sure to have a large enough pot to boil all the crawfish your friends and family can eat! Once they’ve boiled, you put them in a seasoned ice bath to steam them.
Another great food to try when you’re here is a Po-boy. Now, New Orleans takes the credit for this one, and you can always try one in both places and see whose is better. You might think it is just another sandwich, but you would be wrong. Usually a po-boy has roast beef or fried seafood served on French bread. You’ll probably be asked if you want it “dressed”, which usually means lettuce, tomato, pickles, and mayonnaise. For fried seafood po-boys, you often won’t have a choice – it will come dressed with melted butter and pickles.
But if you’re here, you really have to try a good gumbo. Everyone will tell you their mama makes the best. You start with a roux and add the “Holy Trinity,” onions, bell peppers, and celery. I like it best with seafood, but others prefer meat. Most versions will still have andouille sausage. It is traditionally served over rice, which makes it different than jambalaya, which has many of the same ingredients but is cooked along with the rice. Jambalaya is also something you should try when you’re here, as we make some of the best.
Other options for food will depend on what’s in season when you visit. Andouille sausage is always good, as is boudin. Crawfish, catfish, shrimp, and oysters can all make for a great Cajun dish depending on what’s freshly caught. There’s also game hens, duck, quail, chicken, pork, and sometimes beef. We also like rice, hot sauce, and cornbread on the side!