Gumbo recipe, for Nancy
Here's my recipe for gumbo. It's a bit involved, but worth it for me.
1-1/2 pounds okra, sliced into 1/4” thick pieces (fresh or frozen)
2 tbsp canola oil
2 cups chopped celery
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
4-5 large cloves of garlic, minced
4 tsp vegetable soup base
8 cups water
2 tbsp clam or crab soup base, or to taste
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp canola oil
1/2 cup flour
3-4 bay leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil (or 1 tbsp dried basil)
1-1/2 tsp chopped fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried thyme)
4 tsp chopped fresh oregano (or 2 tsp dried oregano)
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley (do not substitute dried for this one)
4-6 Thai chili peppers, seeds removed, finely chopped
1 tbsp filé powder
1 10 oz. can chopped tomatoes, drained
1-1/2 pounds King Crab legs (or 1 pound lump crab meat)
1 pound shrimp, shelled and de-veined
1/2 pound bay scallops or clam or oyster meat
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
4 cups cooked rice
Sauté the okra in a small amount of oil in an iron skillet for 8 minutes on high heat and then about 7 minutes more on medium heat, or until the stringiness is gone. Set aside.
Note: Do not substitute olive oil in this recipe.
Sauté the celery, onions, bell pepper, and garlic in 2 tbsp oil until the onions are translucent. I usually start the celery first for a few minutes, and then I add the onions and bell pepper and sauté those for a couple of minutes and add the garlic last. This way the garlic will not burn and not turn bitter. I sauté with the garlic only about 2 minutes. You can then store these on top of the okra.
In a large saucepan or stockpot, make a roux with the 1 tbsp butter, 2 tbsp canola oil, and 1/3 cup flour. Cook the roux until it is a deep reddish brown—this will be just a few minutes past the “peanut butter” color stage. Add more oil, if needed. The roux should have the consistency of yogurt and be fairly easy to stir at this point so that you do not burn it. Add the tomatoes and cook until all liquid has been absorbed and the mixture is thickened into a paste. Add the filé, basil, oregano, and thyme and cook about 5 minutes more. It will be a very thick paste at this point, similar to a choux or puff paste. Add the water slowly, stirring constantly, and then add the bay leaves and bouillon. Stir until the bouillon has dissolved, and then add the sautéed vegetables, including the okra, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer covered for about 30 minutes. This is a good time to start making the rice.
Just before you are ready to serve, add the crab, shrimp, parsley, and scallops, and cook for 5 minutes more, or until the scallops are done. Check the seasoning, and add a dash of cayenne, Tabasco sauce, Chinese Chili Paste if it is not hot enough. It should be slightly salty, as the rice will require a bit of salt, but be careful not to overdo the salt—this will ruin the flavor. You can always add a tiny bit of salt at the table. If you are using pre-cooked shrimp, add them only at the time of serving, and store leftover shrimp separately. Serve in large, deep soup bowls over rice. You may want to offer Tabasco or chili paste for those who want more pepper flavor, but I don’t find this necessary. If you use Thai chili peppers, it will be hot enough. If you use milder peppers, you may have to increase the quantity or you can leave the seeds in.
When I make quantities that I expect to freeze, I always store the leftovers in individual containers of whatever amount I want to reheat at one time. Gumbo can be reheated once, but not twice.
Yield:4 quarts, or 8 large (2 cup) servings, not including rice
Many people like to add chopped Andouille sausage to gumbo, but I reserve that for jambalaya. You can make your own fish stock in place of water and bouillon, but this dish is already enough work as it is. However, if you boil your own shrimp and crab, use the water that you boil them in for some of the water in this recipe. You can still intensify the flavor by adding the bouillon.