Monday, June 18, 2012

Seafood Gumbo

Updated 10/29/17 photo for this post from June 2012.


Oh yeah, baby - let the bon temps rouler! Nothing hits the spot more than a steaming hot bowl of seafood gumbo, even on an exceptionally hot (98F) June day here in SoCal. When it comes to gumbo, it's all about the roux and it's also all about the stock. The roux, which is basically equal parts flour and oil, must be cooked down until it's quite dark in color (like the color of coffee or a dark toffee), to impart a deep, smoky-nutty flavor to the gumbo. Equally important is the stock you use. Bottled clam juice and salt-free chicken stock are my go-to stock ingredients for gumbo. But, if you want to go all-out and take the extra time, make your own shrimp stock and substitute that for the chicken stock. 

My version of seafood gumbo usually includes shrimp, andouille sausage and the untraditional ingredient of artificial crab meat. While some may frown on the idea of using "Krab" rather than "Crab," I've found it to be a really versatile ingredient (it's made from white fish and has a mild flavor) that actually improves the flavor of the stock. Feel free to also add chicken if you'd like. And a final note, I'm a "File" (pronounced "feelay") kinda gal, so no okra in my gumbo cuz it's just a tad too slimy for my taste. 

Roux: 1 cup flour + 1 cup vegetable oil
6 stalks celery, chopped
2 yellow onions, chopped
2 medium green bell peppers, seeded and chopped
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups salt-free chicken or shrimp stock
4 bottles clam juice
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
3 bay leaves
3-4 sprigs of fresh (or 1 tsp. dried) thyme
12 oz. Andouille or other spicy sausage (I use Aidell's 4-pack), sliced
Two 8 oz. packages of artificial crab meat
1 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-2" pieces (OPTIONAL)

2 lbs. medium shrimp, shelled and deveined

1 tbsp. gumbo file (ground sassafras leaves)

Fresh chopped parsley for garnish

Steamed white rice

1. Blend flour and oil in a large Dutch oven or cast iron pot over medium-high heat (a whisk works nicely). Stir constantly until roux turns a deep rich brown in color (takes about 20 minutes).

2. Add the chopped celery, onions, bell peppers and garlic and cook until vegetables are slightly wilted, about 5 minutes. Stir in the sausage and chicken (if using) and cook another 2-3 minutes. 

3. Add the chicken stock or shrimp stock and bottled clam juice and the bring mixture up to a boil. Stir in the artificial crab (break apart before adding), salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, thyme, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer; cook, uncovered, for 1 hour.

4. Place shrimp in a strainer and immerse into simmering gumbo mixture for 2-3 minutes or until they just turn pink; remove the strainer with the shrimp, shaking out the liquid, and set aside over a separate bowl. I like to keep the poached shrimp out of the gumbo mixture until ready to serve so that they don't overcook and taste like rubber. 

5. Stir 1 tbsp. of the gumbo file into the gumbo mixture and cook about 5-10 minutes or until the gumbo has thickened. Ladle the gumbo into serving bowls, top with some of the poached shrimp, and serve with steamed white rice on the side. Garnish with chopped parsley. 

Since our Italian Marconi peppers were so prolific this year, 
I used them instead of the standard bell peppers for this batch of gumbo.

Diced peppers, onion, celery (the Holy Trinity of Cajun cuisine) and minced garlic.

Cooking down the roux.

After about 20 minutes, the roux should turn a deep coffee color 
(updated photo from 10/29/17).

Cook the veggies in the roux until wilted. 

Andouille sausage.

Andouille sausage, sliced.

Imitation crab meat.

Boneless, skinless chicken thighs - an optional ingredient.

Add the sausage (and chicken at this point, if using) and cook for 2-3 minutes. 

Bottled clam juice.

Add the chicken or shrimp stock and bottled clam juice. Bring the stock to a boil, then stir in the artificial crab (break apart before adding), salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, thyme, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer; cook, uncovered, for 1 hour.

Place the shrimp in a strainer and dip into the gumbo. Poach for 2-3 minutes or until the 
shrimp just turn pink. Remove the cooked shrimp to a separate bowl.

Gumbo File

Add the gumbo file and cook 5-10 minutes or until the mixture has thickened.

Ladle gumbo into individual serving bowls with rice on the side, top with 
poached shrimp and garnish with some fresh parsley.


  1. Okay okay I see, no wonder you were up so late publishing all these delicious stories.

    I've shown my wife these recipies, but she hasn't made any yet, We just had a bunch of friends over and created a huge Mediterranean Food buffet (Greek/Croatien/Lebanese). It was great.

    Northern European food is so bland.



    1. Wow, Kevin - Greek/Croatian/Lebanese sounds awesome! Your wife must be a great cook!