Seafood Gumbo

Seafood GumboCourtesy of Ed Hoffmann

This recipe can easily be increased – just keep ingredients in proportion. The quantities in a good gumbo are always somewhat fluid and depend on your tastes and experience.

1/2 cup oil or fat (not olive or canola – I made a roux with canola once and totally screwed up my gumbo – it didn’t dissolve in the stock – olive oil has too low a smoking point)
1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp flour

2 med onions – diced (about 2 cups)
1 large bell pepper – diced (about 1 cup)
2 stalks celery – diced
3 or 4 cloves of garlic – minced

2-1/2 quarts seafood stock
1 large bay leaf
1 tsp thyme leaves
1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
1 Tbsp Cajun seasoning (I use Tony Chacherie’s)
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper to taste (Go easy, you can always add more)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 20 oz. pkg frozen sliced okra

1-1/2 to 2 lb. fish fillets (see stock recipe) cut into bite sized pieces
2 lb raw peeled shrimp – de-veined if you desire. (Slice them in half lengthwise – they’ll cook quicker, go farther, and curl up nicely.) Don’t use cooked shrimp or your gumbo will suffer!
1 pint shucked fresh oysters
Crabmeat from 1 lg. Dungeness crab or more if you wish (see stock recipe)
1-1/2 cups chopped green onion tops
File powder
Cooked long grain white rice – 6 to 8 cups
Tabasco sauce

Chop vegetables, set aside.

In a heavy bottomed 6-quart pot, make a roux with the flour and oil according to the directions. You’ll want it to be about the color of a well-tarnished penny. When you have achieved that color, IMMEDIATELY add the chopped vegetables and mix thoroughly. Reduce heat and cook vegetable mixture till well wilted – 10 minutes or so – stir frequently.

Add warm stock and seasonings, bring mixture to a boil then reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes.

Add okra, bring back to a boil then simmer another 30 minutes or so, till the okra has lost it’s stickiness and thickened the soup.

Increase heat and add the shrimp and fish pieces. Cook till shrimp are pink and still crisp -5 to 7 minutes. Add oysters and crab meat and cook just until the oysters begin to curl – a few more minutes.

Turn off heat and adjust seasonings.

Spread 1/2 to 3/4 cup cooked rice in each bowl. Dust rice with about 1/4 tsp file powder and ladle gumbo on top. Garnish with generous sprinkle of green onion tops and serve.

Have the bottle of Tabasco sauce on the table to warm the gumbo up to taste.

Great with hot crusty bread!

This recipe will serve 8 hearty appetites.

If you just can’t stand okra, omit it and add about 1 Tbsp file powder to the gumbo at the end – when you adjust the seasonings. Stir it in as a thickener. If the gumbo is then reheated, don’t boil it or the file will cause it to get ropy – warm it gently.