To make this recipe healthier, once we were happy with how it tasted, we tweaked the portion size. The result should taste good, fill your belly, and have moderate levels of saturated fat, sodium, and calories.
Since the ingredients contain minimal saturated fat, the problem shrinks down to the other two.
Like many Louisiana rice dishes (gumbo, for instance), Jambalaya uses long-grain or medium-grain rice. Compared to other kinds, these two have less starch and won’t turn the dish into a pile of mush once cooked.
2. Shrimp for Jambalaya
Although any shrimp will work, we prefer small ones as they give an illusion that there are more shrimp. Plus, they’re often cheaper than large, presentable shrimp used in cocktails.
Peeling little shrimp can be a daunting task, so try to find some that are already peeled, de-veined, and sealed in an air-tight package. They can typically be found in the frozen foods section.
3. Vegetables for Jambalaya
Louisiana dishes often use what they call the ‘holy trinity’ consisting of onions, bell peppers, and celery. They add a gentle sweetness and mild fragrance to the dish.
Jambalaya is sometimes prepared with tomatoes to add extra tanginess, umami, and savoriness. We can’t see how that could be a bad idea, so we threw plenty in.
It’s pretty basic: red powders (Cajun, paprika, red pepper powder, etc.), hot sauces, salt, and pepper. These ingredients give the dish a signature chili aroma, savory taste, and moderate saltiness.
Besides the basics, we added our own touch: a bright tang and citrusy aroma from lime plus fragrance from a sprig of thyme. They make this dish taste and smell much better.
How to Make Homemade Jambalaya
Here is the overview of what needs to be done. For more details, refer to the shrimp jambalaya recipe card at the bottom of this article.
Sear the Shrimp.
Sauté the sausage.
Add the veg.
Add the rice and season.
Simmer everything with broth.
Add the seared shrimp, garnish, and serve.
Before you cook, remember that:
Three minutes is enough for the shrimp to cook and turn crunchy (if they’re fresh enough). Don’t overcook shrimp or you’ll lose that desirable texture.
If you’re using frozen shrimp, spend an additional 3-4 minutes. To check its doneness, cut one in half with a pair of scissors and see if the inside has turned white yet.
It’s essential that you cook the dry rice in the veg and oil first, then add the broth. It allows more flavors to infiltrate the rice grains.
Don’t simmer cooked shrimp. Wait until the end to add them.
Some recipes use more seasonings and chicken broth to make it saucier. We’re going for the dryer version (don’t worry, it’s still moist) as it’s easier to store.
How Long Is Jambalaya Good for?
Dishes with cooked seafood like this shrimp Jambalaya last 3-4 days in the fridge if sealed tightly in air-tight containers. We don’t recommend freezing; the freeze and thaw process kills rice’s soft, fluffy texture.
To reheat, either stir it in a non-stick pan until heated or zap it in a microwave.
Jambalaya will get dryer the longer it sits, as the rice absorbs moisture non-stop. If you’re doing meal prep, avoid this by cutting the cooking time in half and using only half the broth. Then store it away. This leaves no moisture behind and cooks the rice halfway through.
When you’re ready to eat it, cook it with the remaining liquid, fluff it as you would normally, and serve. It’ll be quicker and just as delicious.
Sides for Jambalaya
To cut through the intense flavors of this rice, something fresh and tangy like Greek salad is the best candidate. It’s easy to make, too.
As always, we end the meal with a beverage, and today’s is pineapple cucumber juice. It brings a fresh, tropical vibe to the meal.
Paella vs Jambalaya
Although the two belong to different cuisines — Paella from Valencia, Spain, and Jambalaya from Louisiana, USA — people still mistake the two. After all, they’re both rice dishes cooked with meat, vegetables, stock, and plenty of seasonings.
Still, paella takes on the golden color of saffron (or turmeric), whereas jambalaya packs plenty of red powders (Cajun seasoning, red pepper, paprika, etc). Because of this, jambalaya has a little heat to it while paella tastes milder.
There are two kinds of paella — seafood and meat, and the seafood version bears the least resemblance to jambalaya. It has no veg whatsoever — only seafood, rice, seasoning, and the staple golden color.
A writer and entrepreneur, Luna’s day doesn’t start at the computer keyboard, but in the kitchen.
Half of her working hours are spent on mixing ingredients for her recipes. The other half involve working with the tech team to research and test the tools and appliances that promise to make kitchen work effortless and mess-free. From a kitchen knife or water filter to the Instant Pot, if it can help save time and effort for the home cook, Luna and her team are on it.
Luna’s extracurricular pastimes include camping, travel, and photography.