Recipe: "Seafood Gumbo" from "The Commander's Palace: New Orleans Cookbook" by Ella & Dick Brennan
Status: Made once.
We had a little Marti Gras celebration tonight. It was somewhat unplanned; I wanted to make some sort of soup. As I was browsing through cookbooks, I decided to make gumbo, and Tuesday ended up being the easiest day to make it. Perhaps I subconsciously realized that it was Marti gras week. When I was buying the shrimp, the store I was at was selling live crawfish; they were out of the live crawfish unfortunately (I would have tried cooking them in a seafood boil if they had some, since William really likes this), but they did have some just cooked live crawfish. So I didn't make the crawfish in these pictures, but we were really happy to have them since they were very fresh and their meat was very sweet. William said that it made him want to visit New Orleans again.
This recipe uses okra and gumbo filé as a thickener. The gumbo filé is added at the end of cooking once the heat is off. "River Road Recipes" published by The Junior League of Baton Rouge, Inc says that "The word 'gumbo' comes from the Congo 'quingombo' which means okra. It may be made with okra or with filé as a thickening agent. Filé is the powdered sassafras leaf made long ago by the Choctaw Indians. Whereas okra is cooked with the gumbo, filé is added AFTER the gumbo is removed from the heat. Never add filé while gumbo is cooking because boiling after the filé is added tends to make the gumbo stringy and unfit for use."
Cutting the vegetables and peeling and deveining the shrimp takes a lot of time, but once you start cooking, this recipe goes quickly.
Additional Notes: I made 1/2 the recipe, which is more than enough for a couple dinners for us to. I used shrimp, which had shells and heads that I simmered in some seafood broth I had frozen for 30 minutes to give the broth additional flavor and then strained it. I cut the shrimp into bite sized pieces since I thought that would make the soup easier to eat (see here), and cooked the raw shrimp in the gumbo instead of using precooked shrimp as the recipe suggested. I didn't add the oysters or crab, since I didn't want to spend too much money on seafood.
Served with basamati rice. I recommend keeping a high ratio of broth to rice; this tastes best if there is lots of broth.