Cajun and Creole cuisines are popular for bursts of flavors. Every bite is memorable and they’re a great way to experience New Orleans, Louisiana, wherever you are in the country. But what makes these cuisines so lovable? The secret is in the ingredients.
You may recognize the phrase “the holy trinity” from the Catholic Church faith. It refers to the three in one God – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Naming the three mandatory ingredients “holy trinity” is a nod to the widespread Catholic faith in the area. Garlic is sometimes called the pope because it comes a close fourth in the list of ingredients in Cajun cooking.
Other cuisines have versions of the holy trinity – like French and Spanish cooking. But the most famous is the Cajun and Creole combination.
The Holy Trinity of Cajun Cooking
The holy trinity is the base for every Cajun dish. It’s a combination of onions, bell peppers, and celery. Whichever recipe you can think of, gumbo, jambalaya, crawfish étouffée, all start with these three vegetables.
So what does each ingredient bring to the dish?
Onions are a common ingredient worldwide. Although you may chop and add onions to the pot without thinking, these vegetables are good for you. They are nutrient and mineral-packed and low in calories.
Eating onions is a delicious way to get B vitamins, vitamin C, and magnesium. You also get antioxidants that help fight inflammation and lower cholesterol levels. Cajun cooking primarily uses yellow or white onions. But you can use any onions if you are trying a recipe.
Cajun cooking often uses green bell peppers. But you can use bell peppers of other colors. Unlike other peppers, bell peppers are not hot or spicy. They are more on the sweet side, with red being the most sugary. They are also very flavorful.
Like onions, adding bell peppers to your food boosts your intake of vitamins (vitamins A and C). So, they are the perfect addition to a healthy diet for better vision and a more robust immune system. Although they can be eaten raw, in Cajun cooking, bell peppers are cooked into the dish.
Many people have a love or hate relationship with celery. In the Cajun culture, celery is a cherished vegetable, and no Cajun food would be complete without it.
The fiber and nutrients in celery help with constipation, lowering cholesterol, etc. Eating just one celery stick can provide a quarter of your daily vitamin K needs. Granted, you won’t get as many minerals in cooked celery as in raw, but you can be sure you are eating healthy.
Combined onions, bell peppers, and celery give Cajun cooking its signature flavor, making the world fall in love with Southern cuisine.
What Can You Make with the Holy Trinity?
You can make any Creole or Cajun dish with the holy trinity base. Below are just a few Cajun specials you must try.
Gumbo: This soup-like stew promises a surprise in every bite. Like many Cajun dishes, the best way to eat gumbo is over rice.
Jambalaya: One-pot meal, anyone? Jambalaya may be designed to save time, but it certainly doesn’t cut on the flavors. Rice is an essential ingredient in the same pot as the rest of the items. As with all Cajun dishes, you start with the holy trinity and follow up with meats -usually shrimps and andouille sausages. Cajun seasonings, herbs, and spices add up to create a masterpiece that will be a hit with anyone. Jambalaya has a striking similarity to West African jollof rice.
Crawfish étouffée: Is there anything better than sauteed shellfish served over rice? This is one dish everyone born and raised in Louisiana knows by heart. No matter where you are in the world, the aroma and taste will take you back years to your mom’s kitchen.
Because the Cajun people rely on the land for food, most dishes are made with readily available ingredients. That explains using seafood (shrimp and crawfish), rice, and locally grown vegetables.
The list is endless. If you’re in New York and want a taste of New Orleans without buying a plane ticket, 1803 NYC has got you. We serve only authentic Cajun food at our cozy restaurant at 82 Reade street NY, NY 10007, Corner of Church street.
If you’ve ever asked, what is Cajun food, the answers are waiting for you in our mouth-watering dishes. Join us for brunch, lunch, or dinner. You can also order or make a reservation.