Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Gumbo is a Louisiana soup or stew, Filé gumbo a version thickened with filé powder (ground sassafras leaves)
This is my Mother-in-law recipe; she makes the best seafood Gumbo on the West Coast.
Quantities and kinds of seafood can be amended to account for taste, availability, and pocketbook without damaging the recipe.

1 lb. fresh white fish, cut into 1 inch chunks (any firm white fish will do)
2 lbs. shrimp peeled, cleaned and de-veined
2 lbs. fresh lump crabmeat with shell fragments removed
2 pts. fresh oysters
3 or 4 lobster clusters
1 lb. small sea scallops
1 ½ crawfish tails
1 lg. can (approx. 2 cups) baby clams, strained (use juice for fish stock)
8 c. basic fish or seafood stock*

2 c. onion, chopped
2 lg. cloves garlic, minced
2 c. fresh celery, chopped
2 c. fresh sweet bell pepper, chopped
1 lg. can (approx. 1 lb.) canned whole tomatoes, crushed & drained
2 c. tomato sauce
6 c. white rice, cooked
1 c. butter

4 tsp. gumbo file powder
2 tsp. ground red (cayenne) pepper
2 tsp. white pepper
2 tsp. ground black pepper
2 tsp. sweet paprika
1 tsp. dried thyme leave
1 tsp. dried oregano leaves
1 tablespoon Creole seasoning
1 bay leaf, crushed
2 tsp. Tabasco sauce

GUMBO: Combine the seasonings (except file) in a small bowl and set aside. In the large pot melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, bell pepper and garlic. Cook these until they start to get soft, stirring constantly. Increase the heat to high and stir in the seasoning mix. Cook 6 minutes stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to medium and add the tomatoes and tomato sauce. Continue cooking for 5 minutes stirring constantly. During this time, the mixture will want to stick to the bottom of the pan. Continually scrape the pan bottom with a spoon. The scrapings will add to the flavor of the gumbo as well as decrease the file powder's ability to thicken. Add the stock* and roux**, bring the gumbo to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. When the time is up, add the seafood simmer about 10 minutes. Cover the pot and Allow to sit covered for about 10minutes before serving. Serve over the rice.
Serves 12-15

*BASIC FISH OR SEAFOOD STOCK: this is best prepared ahead of time. When making the stock, always boil the discards shells for 12 to 36 hours, depending on your schedule, Add shells from crabs, shrimp, and occasionally lobster to a pot of boiling water for stock, remove and strain the broth to remove the solids. Return the liquid to the pot and boil to reduce until very concentrated. The volume will be determined by the amount of time you have to devote to the task, but I always try to reduce it to about 1/4 the original volume. The resulting stock has concentrated flavor and can be reconstituted with water to meet the need. Freezes well

**The Basic Roux
The fat used in roux may be butter, shortening, lard, oil, or even bacon drippings. Combine fat with an equal amount of flour, 1/2 cup of each will make a good amount and any excess can be stored in the refrigerator. Melt the fat in a black skillet over low heat. When warm and fluid, sprinkle the flour in a little at a time, stirring. Stir constantly until brown (this may take 20 to 30 minutes); immediately remove from heat continue stirring until it has cooled down a bit and there's no risk of burning, if black specks appear in the roux, it has burned and you'll have throw it out and start over again.

Serves 12-15

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