I spend a lot of my time talking about food! Whilst chatting to a good friend Dana, we got onto the topic of Creole food, as Dana is from Louisiana. I haven´t eaten much Southern (American) food, but I really wanted to make a Jambalaya.
The first recorded mention of Jambalaya was in the 1870´s, a time when there were many slaves in Louisiana. The word Jambalaya, is said to be a combination of ´jambon´ (the French word for ham) and ´aya´ (meaning rice in some african languages).
This Creole dish has a lot of influences from Spanish and French cuisine (it´s similar in a way to paella). The rice dish typically contains meat (sausage and chicken or pork), seafood and vegetables. As we´re making a pescetarian version we stuck to shrimp and some vegetarian sausages. Seafood is one of my favourite things as you know, and this dish is hearty and full of flavour! We made enough for 8 and invited some friends over to help us eat it.
Dana says to me “we´re going to put our feet into it”….I look at her, slightly concerned….I hope she doesn´t mean it (but you never can tell with Dana)! She reassures me by saying that in Louisiana “to put your foot into it” means that someone puts all their love and passion into something. Ok cool, we will definitely do that!
Why make this dish?
Prawns are full of vitamins and minerals (including iron). They contain lots of protein as well as the sought after Omega-3 fatty acids. It´s filling, hearty and tasty, as well as being easy to make.
1 kg fresh prawns,
500g round rice
4 vegetarian sausages, sliced
2 peppers, diced
4 sticks celery, diced
1 onion, diced
4 garlic cloves
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tin whole tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato purée
A few dashes of hot sauce
small bunch of chopped parsley
The most time consuming part of this recipe is the ´mise en place´ (preparing the vegetables). Dana put some Southern blues on the radio and we got settled into a chopping session.
A lot of Creole dishes use what they call ´the trinity´ as a base. The ´trinity´ is pepper, celery and onion that has been finely diced. Make your trinity and mix together in a bowl with the garlic.
Heat a little oil in a pan and start to sauté the trinity.
Peel and de-vein the prawns.
After around 20 minutes, add the prawns and sausages, until the prawns are cooked. Cook the rice.
Add the tomato puree and tin of tomatoes, breaking the whole tomatoes (using a wooden spoon). Add the parsley and combine with the rice in a bowl. Stir it well and season with lots of freshly ground salt and pepper and a teaspoon of cumin powder.
Dana tells me this is often served with garlic bread. We served it with some long stem broccoli, drizzled with some good quality olive oil. Yum!