Vegan Daughter Paleo Son

Gumbo Shrimp

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Gumbo Shrimp

Creole and Cajun foods of Louisiana are, to my mind, at the same time dirty (in a good way) and sophisticated, deeply flavored, spicy, and completely unapologetic… just as it should be.

My first introduction to these flavors came from a beautiful New Orleans woman, Loraine, and her gracious husband John. This couple mastered a perfect blend of humility, hospitality, and elegance. The couple lived in a simple home, and never set the dinner table without a lovely white cloth… the kind of cloth that one does NOT want to soil with a spill of Jambalaya… but if one does spill Jambalaya, the gracious hosts are not at all phased.  You could taste this harmonious complex blend of elegant unpretentious food in every bite of Loraine’s Jambalaya.

Semantics

I am calling this dish “Gumbo Shrimp” because it is a bit of a hybrid. It is something between a Gumbo and a Shrimp Etouffee’. Today, I wanted to incorporate fresh okra in season, but wanted something less soupy than a Gumbo. Also, it needs to be grains-free, so we are leaving out that rich buttery roux – that’s okay though because we are highlighting our spices. The resulting sauce is thickened by okra and gumbo file.

  • Gumbo – Soup, with okra, andouille, and seafood, usually thickened with a dark roux, and gumbo file. Rice served on the side.
  • Jambalaya – Virtually the same flavor profile as gumbo, with rice added in.
  • Etouffee’ – “smothering” – A spicy entree, usually made with “smothered” crawfish or shrimp, served as an entree. Rice served on the side.

Gumbo File (fee lay)

This spice gives gumbo its distinctive flavor and also acts as a thickening agent in Gumbo. It is made from dried sassafras leaves. Sassafras was used for medicinal purposes by Southern Native Americans. Of course, the root of this plant was an essential ingredient in original root beer.

Adding file into gumbo early in the cooking process will thicken the soup, but will also create stringiness. If you do not want this, then add file at the end of cooking, or even at the table.

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What do you do if you want the flavors, but not the heat? This dish makes heat optional. You choose where you want to be on the scovo scale. My base mix has none of the heat or salt. You can add heat and salt to your own taste.

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This recipe does not use a dark roux. Dark roux is delicious! … but takes a good 45 minutes to develop and uses wheat flour. If you avoid wheat flour, leave out the roux.

But we still want flavor! For this recipe I am adding rich flavor with bacon fat. If you don’t eat bacon, no problem, just use another oil.

In the fat, saute the holy trinity of creole cuisine – onion, green pepper, and garlic.

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Next, aundouille goes in. Dice it small so that the flavor and heat permeates the dish. If you do not want heat, use smoked sausage instead. You will still get delicious smokey flavor without spice.

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Next, add your spices to wake them up. The aroma in your kitchen should be making you very happy. You may be tuning into to a mellow jazz station now.

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I did add a little file at this point. I don’t mind the texture. You can wait until the end of cooking if you prefer.

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Tomato paste. This addition is one that makes this recipe more creole than cajun. But without the roux, I want the richness that tomato brings.

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Add your broth. Your soup should look muddy and dirty. This is good! This is flavor! This is rich! Let it develop.

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When you like the development of flavor, add freshly cut okra. You can use frozen okra if okra is not in season.

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When okra is just about tender enough, add shrimp. You can add any other seafood you like. You can also add cooked and diced chicken.

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When your shrimp is cooked, you are done! Eat immediately or refrigerate. This is one of those dishes that continues to develop flavor in the fridge. YUM!!!

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Gumbo Shrimp

Use any seafood you like! Or chicken! Or a combination thereof.  This is a small recipe for a couple of people. Double it, if desired. It refrigerates very well. 

Ingredients

  • 1-2 T bacon fat (or another oil, if preferred)
  • 1/2 cup onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup diced celery (about one rib)
  • 1/4 cup diced green pepper
  • 1/2 cup diced andouille sausage (or more)
  • 1/2 T creole spice mix (see below)
  • 1/4 t dried thyme (or about 2 fresh sprigs)
  • 1 t file
  • 1 T tomato paste
  • 1 t Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 1/2 cups okra, chopped
  • 1 lb. raw shrimp, or another shellfish, white fish, or chopped chicken, or a combination
  • cayenne, if desired, to taste
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste

Method

As you add each of the following layers of flavor, stir.

Using a sauce pot, in the fat, saute the holy trinity of creole cuisine – onion and green pepper until tender. Add garlic and saute for a minute of two. Next, add aundouille sausage and cook for a few minutes.  If you do not want heat, use smoked sausage instead. Next, add your spices to wake them up. If desired, add file. If you want to avoid any stringiness, wait to add the file until after soup is cooked. Add tomato paste. Stir into mixture.

Add your broth and stir. Your soup should look muddy and dirty. This is good! Put a lid on the pot and let your flavors develop. I let it simmer at this point for about an hour. The color and flavor will deepen.

When you like the development of flavor, add freshly cut okra. You can use frozen okra if okra is not in season. When okra is just about tender enough, add shrimp. You can add any other seafood you like. You can also add cooked and diced chicken.

When your shrimp is cooked, you are done! Eat immediately or refrigerate. This is one of those dishes that continues to develop flavor in the fridge. YUM!!!

Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking. If you did not add file before, you can turn down the heat and add it at the end.

Serve on its own, or over rice.

Heat-free Creole Spice Mix

This is basically just Emeril’s delicious spice mix without cayenne, pepper, and salt. I like to be in control of these ingredients, adding as much or as little as I like, depending upon the tastes of whoever is eating my gumbo.

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme

Combine all ingredients. Keep in a sealed container.

Enjoy!

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  1. Ricki
    RickiSeptember 30,14

    This looks WONDERFUL! I can’t wait to make it and EAT it! 🙂

    • Chef Gina
      Chef GinaOctober 1,14

      Thank you! Make extra! It keeps very well in the fridge. 🙂

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