All posts filed under: Staples

Cajun-Style Roux

Roux is a mixture of fat and flour which is used to thicken gravy, sauces, and stews. The flour is mixed into hot fat and toasted until the raw flour taste disappears and the mixture is the desired color. There are several colors of roux that can be made: white, light brown (the color of honey), medium brown (a tan-brown leather color), dark red-brown (a mahogany color), and black. Many cuisines such as French, Italian, and Eastern European make roux but Cajun roux is unique because it is typically toasted until it is at least a deep brown color, which gives it a rich nutty flavor. Several colors of roux are used in Cajun cooking, such as medium brown, dark red-brown, and black*. Roux has less thickening power the more it is toasted; according to Wikipedia, a chocolate-colored roux has about one-fourth the thickening power by weight of a white-colored roux. Most sources suggest cooking roux at a low heat for a long time, however Paul Prudhomme’s method uses very high heat to quickly cook the roux …

Cajun Basic Rice

The benefit of using the oven to cook this rice is that it frees up your stove to make other things, and you don’t need to watch it closely. Source: Heavily modified from “Basic Cooked Rice” from “Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Louisiana Kitchen” by Paul Prudhomme

How to Toast Sesame Seeds

Sesame seeds will have the best flavor if you buy untoasted sesame seeds and roast them yourself, because once they are toasted their flavor deteriorates. The Japanese markets that I have checked only had pre-toasted sesame seeds.  Organic and naturel food stores have been a better source for me to find raw sesame seeds.  If you live in San Francisco, then Rainbow Grocery is a good place to look for raw black sesame seeds (see Sources for Ingredients).  However, even if you are not able to find untoasted sesame seeds, retoasting will help to perk up their flavor. According to Hiroko Shimbo in “The Japanese Kitchen,” Japanese preparations always use unhulled sesame seeds.  If it isn’t marked, you may be able to guess at the type by color: hulled sesame seeds are usually white and uniform in color; unhulled raw white sesame seeds will contain many different off-white shades, varying from white to off-white to beige to tan.  Black sesame seeds always have the hull on, since the hull is what makes them black (the inside seed is …