Jambalaya is a comfort food that takes you on vacation to the bayou! If you’ve always wanted to make seafood jambalaya but you haven’t yet, then you need this recipe. This jambalaya recipe is easy to make and includes an assortment of vegetables, and rice flavour. The result is a seafood dish that you can enjoy with your family. The easiest approach is to cook and season your seafood separately, adding them to the rice at the end to heat them up.
Seafood jambalaya is crowd pleasingly delicious meal with a pronounced personality. It contains a variety of textures and taste and certainly looks elegant on plate, not only is the combination of seafood, vegetables and rice flavour, it’s also great looking. Jambalaya is an opportunity for every chef to personalize their cooking by adding what the love in complimentary quantities and combinations. However, you still need to be sure you have a balance of flavours and texture. It is a great party dish that you can prepare ahead so you can enjoy the party yourself.
Jambalaya is a popular Louisiana-origin dish of West African, Spanish and French (especially Provencal cuisine) influence, consisting mainly of meat and vegetable mixed with rice. Traditionally, the meat always includes sausage of some sort, often a smoked meat such as andouille, along with pork or chicken and seafood, such as crawfish or shrimp. The vegetables are usually a sofrito, like mixture known as the “holy trinity” in Cajun cooking, consisting of onion, celery and green bell pepper, though other vegetables like okra, carrots, tomatoes, chilies and garlic are also used. Jambalaya is made differently depending on the region and is inspired by the French and Spanish culture.
The first is Creole jambalaya also known as “red jambalaya”. First meat is added to the trinity of celery, peppers and onions, the meat is usually chicken and sausage such as andouille or smoked sausage. Next the vegetables and tomatoes go in followed by seafood. Rice and stock are added in equal proportions at the very end. The mixture is brought to a boil and left to simmer for 30 to 50 minutes, depending on the recipe with infrequent stirring. Towards the end of the cooking process, stirring usually ceases. Some versions call for the jambalaya to be baked after the cooking of all the ingredients.
The second style, more characteristic of southwestern and south-central Louisiana, is Cajun jambalaya which contains no tomatoes. The meat is browned in a cast-iron pot; the bits of the meat that stick to the bottom of the pot are what give a Cajun jambalaya its brown colour. A little vegetable oil is added if there is not enough fat in the pot. The trinity of 50% onions, 25% red bell pepper and 25% celery, although proportions can be altered to suit one’s taste is added and sautéed until soft. Stock and seasonings are added in the next step and then the meats are returned to the pot. This mixture is then simmered, covered for about 20 to 30 minutes. Lastly the mixture is brought to a boil and rice is added to the pot, it is then covered and left to simmer over low heat without stirring. The dish is done when the rice has cooked.
In a less common method, meat and vegetables are cooked separately from the rice, while at the same time the rice is cooked in a savoury stock. It is added to the meat and vegetables before serving. This is called “white jambalaya”. This dish is rare in Louisiana as it is seen as a ‘quick’ attempt to make jambalaya, popularized outside the state to shorten cooking time.
The origin of New Orleans jambalaya is possibly Jollof rice, a West African dish. Many of the slaves that lived in New Orleans came from West Africa and would have been familiar with the dish of Jollof rice. Like jambalaya, Jollof rice was traditionally made from whatever ingredients were handy, such as seafood, crawfish and various meats. Tomatoes are always present in its preparation.
- 1 lb peeled and deveined shrimps
- 6 tbsp of oil
- 3 bell peppers (you can use three different colours for additional beauty)
- 1.5 lb scallops
- 3 celery
- 1 onion
- 1 jalapeno pepper
- 4 cloves garlic
- 5 chicken stock
- 21 ounce crushed tomatoes
- 2 teaspoon of seasoning powder
- 3 cups of uncooked basmati rice
- 1 tbsp of Creole or Cajun seasoning
- 1 ½ teaspoon of thyme
- Salt to taste
- 2 bay leaves
For the Shrimps
- ½ tsp of paprika
- ½ tsp of salt
- 1 tsp of red pepper flakes
For the Scallops
- Add the same measurement of shrimp’s ingredients.
- In a pan over medium high-heat, add two tablespoons of oil; season the shrimps with paprika, salt and pepper and cook for two to three minutes on each side until the shrimp is pink and cooked through. Transfer to a plate and keep aside.
- In the same pan, heat up another two tablespoons oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Season the scallops with paprika, salt and pepper and cook for at least two minutes on both aside, until cooked through. Also transfer in a clean plate and set aside.
- Add the remaining two tablespoon of oil in that same pan. Add bell peppers, celery, jalapeno, onion, garlic and bay leaves. Season with salt, Creole seasoning, seasoning powder and thyme and then sauté for about six minutes, stirring occasionally until the onions are soften.
- Transfer the sautéed vegetables into the baking pan, stir in the crushed tomatoes, chicken stock and rice, and bake for 40 to 50 minutes or till the rice becomes tender.
- Add the shrimp and scallops and stir to combine.
Jambalaya is a Cajun classic and has roots down in the French-Canadian immigrants to Louisiana. Mixed with spices and influence from the Caribbean and American south, jambalaya is a versatile, tasty dish that screams of New Orleans, and is easily customized to fit any party, dinner or taste bud. Note that the rice will cook faster on the stovetop but will need to keep an eye on it to prevent it from burning. The oven takes a little longer but doesn’t require stirring until it is done. If you are using basmati rice on the stovetop, it should be done in about 20 minutes.