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Notable Nosh: Jambalya (Real Cajun style?)

Nosh - Jambalaya

Quite some time ago,  I posted a version of Jambalaya  I cooked myself. My wife and I both make the dish from time to time but, until recently, I had only once had it served to me outside the home and this was at Vineyards Wine Bar and Bistro , in Ottawa. That place is not a Cajun restaurant and their interpretation was not, I am afraid to say,  particularly impressive.

On my last trip to the capital, I paid a visit to Fat Tuesdays as I had long wanted to sample their ‘Oyster Po’boy’. Unfortunately, that particular delicacy still remains on my ‘bucket list’, as I discovered that the restaurant has now discontinued the item, apparently due to some sort of supply issues with the buns they used. In any event, though disappointed, I saw that Jambalaya was on the menu and, as Fat Tuesdays is most definitely a Cajun place, I decided to see what they could do with the dish…

The menu described the dish as containing: ‘Prawns, Andouille Sausage, Smoked Chicken, House Cured Ham, Vegetable Blend, Dirty Rice, and Creole Tomato Sauce.’

I was a bit bemused by the inclusion of Dirty Rice, as this is a whole other Cajun dish in it’s own right but, other than affecting the look of the dish, it worked out pretty nicely.

The appearance, as you can see, was not terribly attractive and, in my case, it was made even more stark and uninteresting owing to the omission, at my request, of the huge dollop of sour cream that I saw served on the top of plates being served to other people. I don’t know if this is common in Louisiana, or not, but it really didn’t appeal to me at all.

Anyway, aside from the looks, this dish was really excellent. The vegetable ingredients were green pepper and onion and there were lots of shrimp, sausage and chicken. The spicing was really good, with just a touch of heat, and the flavors of the whole mélange were very nicely balanced indeed. I think my wife makes a better one than they do here but I have to admit that it was better than my attempts even though, if I may say in my own defense, my preparations are always much prettier. Whether this was a true Cajun rendition of the dish I cannot honestly say, not being an expert, but it was certainly a delicious effort if it wasn’t. Do any of my readers have any thoughts given the picture and the ingredients I’ve described?

4 Comments Post a comment
  1. John, there are a wide variety of ways to make jambalaya, almost as many ways as there are Cajuns. Some make their jambalaya with chicken and sausage. Some use shrimp, or ham, or even duck or alligator. It depends upon what you have available and what you want in your jambalaya. Some Cajuns like a creole New Orleans-stye red jambalaya with tomatoes and tomato sauce. Others use chicken or beef stock instead which is a more Cajun-style brown jambalaya. Your photo looks like a jambalaya to me so if it also tasted like a jambalaya, then it must have been a jambalaya. 😉

    October 6, 2013
  2. I can related to your cajun quest… I fell in love with New Orleans long before I ever went and began cooking gumbo and jambalaya from a cookbook. I even held parties in my Boston apartment with large pots of my attempts. But I never knew if I was doing it right. I used Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Louisiana Kitchen Cookbook, which I still use… the stains are evidence! I finally went on a whim, my first vacation alone in the early 90’s and it was amazing. And I learned that following Chef Prudhomme’s recipes was spot on! I returned several times and miss the city dearly. I have many lame excuses for why I have never traveled to Europe or Asia but the truth is, I kept returning to New Orleans. So my advice to you is pick up this cookbook, it won’t steer you wrong! And wear long sleeves to make the roux! The best gumbo I ever had was in a long gone restaurant, everyone I met recommended going. It was a duck and oyster gumbo that was so decadent that it was difficult not to moan and lick the bowl!

    October 9, 2013
    • My wife has one of Prudhomme’s books… although I can’t recall the title at the moment. She does WAY more Cajun cooking than I do.

      October 10, 2013

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