I made my first batch of Crawfish Étouffée this week. As soon as crawfish tails are reasonable in price, my family likes étouffée, rice, a big green salad and crusty french bread.

The season’s first crawfish have to be for étouffée; after that, I can do the “fancified” dishes as my family refers to them. I don’t know how “fancified” you can get with crawfish, though I’ve had some fancy crawfish canapés and dips.

Last year, I was into serving miniature cups and dishes with a taste of something delicious for an appetizer. Could that be just a couple of spoonfuls of étoufféeover brown rice? Sounds like a good appetizer to me.

Every family has its version of étoufféejust as its does their family gumbo. Some make it thick with roux, almost like a stew but not brown.

Others make it red with tomatoes. My sister-in-law makes a delicious étouffée, and she uses canned cream of celery soup in hers.

My recipe is similar to the one my mother made, minus the containers of crawfish fat she would put in hers.

Once we were no longer able to purchase the extra crawfish fat, cooks got creative by adding Ro-tel tomatoes, canned soups, broths and their own tasty changes to the simple étouffée.

In this recipe, lots of celery, bell pepper and onion are cooked down in a very thin roux. My mother cooked the vegetables until they were very soft and mushy. This is a basic Cajun étouffée; feel free to add your own touches.

Corinne Cook is a columnist for The Advocate. Reach her at food@theadvocate.com.