Gulf of Mexico Gumbo

It’s fish and seafood week in One Woman’s Kitchen!  Since Mardi Gras is Tuesday I’ve decided to get a head start and make some seafood gumbo.  It’s the perfect food for a snowy afternoon.

Now, this is a Cooking Light recipe so rather than a traditional butter and flour roux they substitute flour browned in a dry skillet. I have kind of mixed feelings about that.  Unless you’re very, very careful the browned flour can end up tasting a little burned.  But lots of people do it this way so if you’re watching your calories it’s a decent substitute.  Just stay close to it as it browns.  I cook mine to a light taupe color.  If you like a ‘browner’ taste keep going for a few minutes.

First, for the substitutions.  I always use red, yellow or orange pepper instead of green.  I don’t like green peppers.  Today I used red.  I used oysters instead of crayfish.  No crayfish available in the Kroger yesterday.  Oysters are the recommended substitute.  Feel free to add more shrimp or fish instead.   I only had one bottle of clam juice, instead of the 4 in the recipe.  Since I was chopping onions and celery and peeling shrimp I made a quick shrimp stock to make up the missing clam juice.  Finally, I used catfish instead of red snapper.  That’s it for substitutions.  I did all my ‘mis en place’ before I started cooking the first thing.  So, all my chopping done.  All my measuring done.  It makes for more dishes, but it certainly makes putting the gumbo together really easy. 

A few tips.  When you’re adding the flour to the pot do add it gradually and do whisk continuously.  For a little while after each addition it will look like it’s not incorporating.  Just keep whisking.  If you don’t you’ll end up with a big clump of flour and otherwise runny gumbo.  If you’re nervous about that spoon out some of the pot liquid and whisk it into the flour to smake a smooth slurry.  You’ll still need to whisk continuously as you add it, but there’s a little lower risk of lumps.  Also, when you’re cooking seafood pay close attention to the cooking time.  If you cook shrimp too long it gets rubbery and awful.  If you follow these cooking times carefully you’ll have fish that melts like butter and the most tender shrimp and oysters.

I served this with brown rice rather than white.  I like the nutty flavor and the chewy texture that it adds. You’ll probably want to add some salt.  The recipe doesn’t call for any.  If your Creole seasoning is salted you may not need extra.  Mine is not, so when I first tasted the gumbo it was a little flat.  I added some salt.  Be careful about how much.  Likely the hot sauce you add at the end will have some salt in it.  I use green Tabasco sauce which has a mild heat and a salty finish.

This stuff is good.  I mean really good.  It’s dark and rich and wonderful.  I’m only planning to eat this week about half of what I made so I’m hoping that it freezes well.  It would be great to have it on another cold and wet day without having to go to so much trouble!

Good? So, so good.
Easy? Not so much. It takes a long time and has a lot of steps.
Good for company? Absolutely.
Special shopping? Fresh seafood makes a difference if you can easily get what you need.

Gulf of Mexico Gumbo

Ingredients

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
2 cups chopped onion
1 cup chopped bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped celery
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup sliced okra
1 T tomato paste
1 cups water
1 teaspoon Cajun-Creole Seasoning
1 (8-ounce) bottle clam juice
3-3 1/2 cups shrimp stock
2 bay leaves
1/2 pound skinned catfish fillet, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
8 ounces shucked fresh oysters
1/4 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 teaspoon hot sauce
4 1/2 cups hot cooked brown rice

Directions

Place flour in a 9-inch cast-iron skillet; cook over medium heat 20 minutes or until browned, stirring constantly with a whisk. (If flour browns too fast, remove it from heat, and stir until it cools down.) Remove from heat; set aside.

In a small stock pot add ends and peels of onion, celery and shrimp. Add 3 1/2 cups of water. Bring to a simmer. Simmer until stock is needed for gumbo. Drain stock into a bowl.

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, bell pepper, celery, and garlic; sauté 8 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add okra and tomato; cover and cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 1 1/2 cups water, Cajun-Creole Seasoning, clam juice, shrimp stock and bay leaves, and bring to a boil. Gradually add browned flour, stirring with a whisk. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add fish; cook 5 minutes. Add green onions, oysters, and shrimp; cook 10 minutes or until seafood is done. Stir in hot sauce; discard bay leaves. Serve gumbo over rice.

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