Fish In Red Gravy

A plate of white rice topped with Fish In Red Gravy with a pot of fish cooked in a red sauce next to it.

Fish In Red Gravy was one of my Maw Maw Trahan’s best dishes and is a family favorite still today. Its red tomato sauce and seasonings simmer for hours achieving a deep rich taste before adding fish fillets such as redfish or catfish. A simple, yet very satisfying stew that is a pleasant alternative to the usual fried fish dinner.

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Rice Farming And Fishing

My grandfather, Romeal Trahan, was part of a large family that lived on a rice farm just below Highway 335, south of Kaplan, Louisiana. He and four of his brothers married and homesteaded in that area. They grew rice and raised cattle while accumulating more land living in close proximity to one another. I don’t know if they were given much of a choice in careers, but I would like to think they chose rice farming because of the wholesome lifestyle it offers.

There wasn’t much the Trahan brothers and their families didn’t do together. They worked, went to church and school, attended social events, and shopped in the same stores in the same town. This made for a close-knit community.

I enjoy hearing stories of how life was lived back then. Mama said they had a strong sense of freedom. They could venture out into the woods and fields around them. Whether it was riding horses or swimming in the freshly pumped well-watered canal they had plenty of siblings and cousins to do it with. They always felt protected. Their parents didn’t seem to be filled with anxiety, or at least it was never demonstrated before them. Oh, that we would give that to our children today! 

There was an entertaining event the Trahan brothers did together, and that was fishing in Vermilion Bay. On one occasion, they decided to invite their wives, and that sent the sisters-in-law shopping for something they did not own. A pair of pants. At that time, ladies wore dresses. A house dress for day work, dresses, and suits with skirts to attend church, funerals, weddings, and other such places. Seldom do I remember seeing MawMaw or my great-aunts in a pair of pants.

One afternoon, we had driven into my grandparents’ driveway when the men were returning from one of those fishing trips. Paw Paw and some other menfolk were outside unloading the fish, and I remember the excitement of greeting them and seeing their fresh catch.

I recall so vividly my Maw Maw standing at the stove stirring in her large Magnalite pot that held her special red tomato gravy for those fish. She cooked it low and slow so the seasonings and vegetables could meld together and of course, she always started with a roux and the Cajun trinity!

A pot of re sauce with fresh fish fillets being placed into the pot.

Passing Down The Fish And Red Gravy Recipe

Mama taught me how to make this same fish stew. There was never a written recipe, so I’ve nailed down the ingredients and directions to happily pass them on to you!

We begin with seasoning the fish first. I usually use my own blend of salt, garlic granules, and cayenne pepper. You can do the same, but recently I’ve discovered a white pepper seasoning blend made by Slap Ya Mama Cajun Seasoning Company. I like it because it’s not loaded with a bunch of spices, but rather a simple combination of salt, red pepper, white pepper, and garlic.

It doesn’t take away from the taste of the food but adds just enough of that “SLAP” of seasoning you want in your fish dish. And it’s delicious on your morning eggs, too!

After the seasoning, a roux is made. Then the vegetables and more seasonings are added to simmer for at least a couple of hours. Lastly, the fish is added to the pot. After the fish cooks for about a half-hour, it’s ready to serve on a heaping bed of cooked rice.

A plate of white rice topped with Fish In Red Gravy.

For another classic Cajun fish recipe, you can check out this Fish Court-Bouillon. It’s cooked with a white sauce. You may be blessed with lots of fish in your freezer, so how about Fish Cakes Made With Sacalait, which is similar to a crab cake. Just a few more ways to enjoy fish, whether it’s your own fresh catch or from your grocer’s freezer.

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Fish In Red Gravy

  • Author: Louisiana Woman
  • Total Time: 46 minute
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x


A classic Cajun fish stew of flavorfully rich, thick tomato gravy served over rice.



3 pounds of any firm-textured fish

Slap Ya Mama White Pepper Blend Cajun seasoning

1/3 cup oil

1/3 cup flour

3/4 cup bell peppers, chopped

3/4 cup celery, chopped

1 1/2 cup onion, chopped 

3 garlic cloves, pressed

2  15-ounce cans crushed stewed tomatoes

2  4-ounce cans green chilies, chopped

3/4 teaspoonSlap Ya Mama White Pepper Blend Cajun Seasoning

1/4 teaspoon salt



Lightly season fish with  Slap Ya Mama Cajun Seasoning set aside.

In a large, heavy pot, make a roux by heating the oil, then adding the flour and stirring on medium heat until roux is a dark caramel color.

Add vegetables and cook 10 minutes on medium-low heat stirring often, cooking the vegetables in the roux until they are soft.

Add tomatoes, green chilies, and seasonings to simmer on low heat for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally, or transfer into a crockpot and cook on high for at least a few hours.

If using a slow cooker, transfer the gravy from the crockpot back to the large, heavy pot.

Gravy should be thick and darker than when you began.

Add the seasoned fish to the rich red gravy and cook on medium-low heat for 30 minutes or until fish is done.

Garnish with parsley and serve fish with gravy over rice.


Take your time not to burn the roux.

The fish will release liquid into the gravy so there’s no need to add water to this dish.


  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 2 hours and 40 minutes
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Simmering
  • Cuisine: Cajun

Keywords: fish in red gravy, fish stew

I hope you enjoyed a little bit of my reminiscing and cook up some Fish In Red Gravy.

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“If the devil cannot make us bad, he will make us busy.”

Corrie Ten Boom

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