Seafood Gumbo is the perfect example of a melting-pot dish.
The recipe starts with a roux*, which originated in France. Choctaw Indians donated the filé powder. The Spanish contributed tomatoes from South America. The Germans offered up sausage. West African slaves introduced okra.
You can see why there are so many recipes for gumbo… seafood or otherwise.
Gumbo is a great weeknight meal. Add or subtract the shellfish, depending on what’s available in your market. But, peeled and deveined shrimp are a must if you are going to give the gumbo some depth. This recipe has okra so you won’t need the filé powder (which acts as a thickener like the okra).
Like I said… gumbo is truly a group effort!
*Roux is a thickening agent made of equal parts of fat (like butter) and flour. It is the basis of many sauces.
prep: 20 minutes
cook: 40 minutes
¾ cup butter
¾ cup flour
2 cups onions
1 cup chopped bell pepper
1 cup chopped celery
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon cayenne
5 bay leaves
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 16-ounce package frozen okra, chopped
3 cups water (or more if your gumbo is too thick)
1 pound medium raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 pound lump crabmeat
2 dozen shucked oysters (shuck them yourself or buy them already shucked)
½ cup chopped parsley
let’s get to it…
Melt the butter on medium heat in a large stockpot or enameled cast-iron Dutch oven. Whisk in the flour and stir constantly for 20 to 25 minutes to make a dark brown roux, the color of chocolate (see the image below).
Stir in the onions, bell pepper, celery, salt, cayenne and bay leaves. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring often, until the vegetables are soft.
Stir the tomatoes, okra and water into the vegetables and roux. Add the shrimp and crabmeat and cook for 10 minutes.
Add the oysters and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Top with chopped parsley. Serve with white rice.