A Cajun Cooking Glossary: Unveiling the Secrets of Louisiana Cuisine

Cajun and Creole cuisines are distinct yet interconnected culinary traditions that are integral to the culture of Louisiana. This glossary provides a comprehensive list of terms and ingredients commonly used in both styles of cooking.

Amandine (ar-man-deen): A method of serving fish or seafood with a lemon butter sauce topped with toasted, slivered almonds.

Andouille (ahn-doo-wee): A lean, spicy, smoked Cajun pork sausage that adds great flavor.

Bisque (bisk): A rich, thick creamy soup made from seafood In Cajun country; it’s usually made with crawfish or shrimp.

Blackened: A cooking technique where fish, meat, or poultry is coated in a special blend of spices and then cooked quickly in a very hot skillet. The result is a dark, flavorful crust with a juicy interior.

Boudin (boo-dan): A seasoned Cajun sausage traditionally made of pork, rice and spices.

Boulettes (boo-lets): Ground seafood, usually fish, crawfish, or shrimp, mixed with seasonings and breadcrumbs, then deep-fried in oil.

Cajun Trinity: The Holy Trinity of Cajun cooking includes celery, onions and bell pepper.

Cochon de Lait (coo-shon duh lay): An event where a suckling pig is roasted over a blistering hickory fire until the inside is tender and juicy and the outside brittle as well-cooked bacon.

Couche-Couche (koosh-koosh): A popular Cajun breakfast food made by frying cornmeal and topping it with milk, coffee milk or cane syrup.

Courtbouillon (coo-boo-yon): A spicy Louisiana stew made with fish, tomatoes, onions and vegetables, and typically thickened with roux.

Cracklins: Fried pieces of pork fat and skin, often seasoned with salt and spices. A popular snack in Cajun cuisine.

Crawfish (or Crawdad): A freshwater crustacean resembling a small lobster, commonly used in Cajun dishes like crawfish étouffée and crawfish boils.

Creole Mustard: A coarse, grainy mustard often used in Cajun and Creole cooking for marinades and sauces.

Debris (day-bree) – A dish made combining the leftover parts of the animal such as the liver, spleen, intestines and the like with lots of onions. It has a delicate flavor and is served over rice.

Dirty Rice: A rice dish sautéed with green peppers, onions, celery and a variety of meats.  

Dressing: Synonymous with stuffing, but usually served as a side dish for a meal as opposed to being stuffed in a turkey; also known as ‘rice dressing.’

Étouffée (ay-too-fay):  A savory dish, usually made with crawfish or shrimp, prepared by simmering over a low flame.

Filé (fee-lay): Ground sassafras leaves used to thicken and flavor gumbo. It has a unique, earthy flavor and is usually added at the end of cooking.

Fricassee (free-kay-say): A thick stew made by browning pieces of meat (such as chicken or rabbit) and then simmering them in a seasoned broth.

Grillades (GREE yads):  Beef or veal round steak, browned, and simmered until tender in browned tomato sauce, served over grits.

Gumbo (Gom-bo): A deep, rich Cajun stew often made with a dark roux, featuring a variety of proteins like chicken, sausage, shrimp and seafood.

Jambalaya (jam-bah-lah-ya): A traditional South Louisiana rice dish, it is a well-seasoned mixture of meat, onions, bell pepper and rice cooked in a single pot.

Louisiana Hot Sauce: A staple in both Cajun and Creole cuisines, made from aged red peppers, vinegar, and salt.

Maque Choux (mock shoe): A Cajun dish of smothered corn, tomatoes, onions and peppers. Sometimes shrimp or crawfish are added to make a main dish.

Okra: A vegetable commonly used in Cajun and Creole cooking, particularly in gumbo. It acts as a natural thickener.

Pistolette (pistol-let): A small French bread that is cut and the middle scooped out so that it can be filled with a delicious Cajun favorite, such as crawfish étouffée.

Remoulade (rem-oo-lard): A spicy sauce used with shrimp and other seafood.

Roux (roo): A slow-cooked mixture of flour and fat (usually oil or butter) cooked together to form a thickening agent for sauces and stews. In Cajun cooking, roux is typically cooked until it is a dark brown color, adding a deep, rich flavor to dishes.

Sauce Piquante (sos pee-kawnt): A thick, sharp flavored sauce made with roux and tomatoes, highly seasoned with herbs and peppers, simmered for hours.

Tasso (tah-so): Thin-cut, highly seasoned smoke-cured ham. Used for seasoning in beans, gumbos, vegetables and many other Cajun dishes.

Turducken: A unique “Cajun Bird” created when a turkey is stuffed with a duck, which is stuffed with a chicken. Part of the stuffing process also includes Cajun dressings and seasonings.

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