Friday, May 13, 2011

The Daring Cooks Let the Good Times Roll: Seafood Gumbo

This post is Part II of my May Daring Cooks' Challenge for The Daring Kitchen. Please click here for the Challenge Introduction, and the recipe for Drew's Chicken & Smoked Sausage Gumbo.

This Seafood Gumbo is also from My New Orleans: The Cookbook. It is rich a dark roux, trinity of vegetables, homemade seafood stock, shrimp, blue and/or lump crab, smoked sausage, shucked oysters, and creole spices. Deep-fried okra and sliced green onions provide a colorful and tasty garnish.

Seafood Gumbo
Minimally adapted from My New Orleans: The Cookbook
Servings: 10


1 cup canola oil
1 cup flour
2 large onions, diced
6 jumbo blue crabs, each cut into four pieces (if unavailable, omit, or substitute another type of crab)
1 pound spicy smoked sausage links, sliced ½ inch thick (optional, but encouraged if you eat sausage)
1 stalk celery, diced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup sliced fresh okra, ½ -inch thick slices (or frozen, if fresh is not available). If fresh or frozen is unavailable, you can leave it out because the roux will provide enough of a thickener.
Leaves from sprig of fresh thyme
3 quarts shrimp stock (recipe below)
2 bay leaves
1 pound peeled and deveined medium Louisiana or wild shrimp. (Note: If you are buying whole, head-on shrimp, which you will need in order to use the heads and peels for stock, you will then need approximately 4 pounds  of shrimp to yield enough heads/shells for the stock. Although the recipe only calls for 1 pound of shrimp, you will end up with a little over 2 pounds of cleaned shrimp, which I found was perfect for this size pot of gumbo)
1 pint shucked oysters
8 ounces lump crabmeat
1 cup minced green onions
Freshly ground black pepper
Basic Creole Spices, to taste (recipe below)
Worcestershire, to taste
Tabasco, to taste
4-6 cups cooked Basic Louisiana White Rice (recipe follows)


1. Prepare Shrimp Stock, if using (recipe below).

2. Prepare homemade Basic Creole Spices, if using (recipe below).

3. Make sure all of your vegetables are cut, diced, chopped, minced and ready to go before beginning the roux. You must stand at the stove and stir the roux continuously to prevent it from burning.

4. In a large cast-iron or heavy-bottomed pan, heat the canola oil over high heat. Whisk the flour into the hot oil – it will start to sizzle. Reduce the heat to moderate, and continue whisking until the roux becomes deep brown in color, about 15 minutes.

5. Add the onions. Switch to a wooden spoon and stir the onions into the roux. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and continue stirring until the roux becomes a glossy dark brown, about 10 minutes.

6. Add the blue crabs and smoked sausage and stir for a minute before adding the celery, bell peppers, garlic, and okra. Increase the heat to moderate and cook, stirring, for about 3 minutes.

7. Add the thyme, shellfish stock, and bay leaves. Bring the gumbo to a boil, stirring occasionally.

8. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Stir occasionally, skimming off the fat from the surface of the gumbo every so often.

9. Add the shrimp, oysters, crabmeat and green onions to the pot and cook for 15 minutes. Make sure everything is ready to serve before adding the shellfish to the gumbo. DO NOT OVERCOOK your shellfish.

10. Season with salt and pepper, Creole Spices, Worcestershire, and Tabasco.

11. Serve in bowls over rice.


Basic Shrimp Stock
Adapted from 
My New Orleans: The Cookbook and Real Cajun: Rustic Home Cooking from Donald Link's Louisiana
Servings: About 3 quarts


¼ cup canola oil
Shells and heads from 4 pounds shrimp (prawns)
1 tablespoon Basic Creole Spices (recipe below)
1 large onion coarsely chopped
2 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
6 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
6 bay leaves
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
2 cups dry white wine (optional)
3 ½ quarts water


1. Heat the canola oil in a large stockpot over moderate heat. When the oil begins to smoke slightly, add the shells and paprika. Stir continuously, for 2 minutes, until the shells crisp up and turn pink.

2. Add the onion, celery, carrot, garlic, rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, and peppercorns. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes.

3. Add the white wine (skip this step if not using wine) and bring to a boil. Allow the wine to reduce for an additional 5 minutes.

4. Add the water and return to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and simmer, uncovered, skimming off any foam or oil that rises to the surface, for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

5. Strain through a fine sieve into a large bowl. Discard all the solids. Allow the stock to cool, cover and refrigerate, then skim off the fat. Use immediately, or freeze for later use.


Basic Louisiana White Rice
From My New Orleans: The Cookbook
Servings: About 4 cups


1 tablespoon chicken fat, extra-virgin olive oil, or butter
1 small onion, minced
1½ cups Louisiana (or another long-grain white rice)
3 cups Basic Chicken Stock
1 bay leaf
1-2 pinches salt


1. Put the fat, oil, or butter and the onions into a medium saucepan and sweat the onions over moderate heat until they are translucent, about 5 minutes.

2. Pour the rice into the pan and stir for 2 minutes.

3. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil.

4. Add the bay leaf and salt.

5. Cover the pan with a lid, reduce the heat to low, and cook for 18 minutes.

6. Remove the pan from the heat, fluff the rice with a fork, and serve.


Basic Creole Spices

My New Orleans: The Cookbook
Makes ½ cup


2 tablespoons celery salt
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon ground allspice


Mix together all spices in a bowl. Transfer the spices to a clean container with a tight-fitting lid. Store up to six months.


My name is Andy. said...

Thanks for making my first Daring Cook challenge a great one! Your instructions were perfect and your pictures amazing!

Monkeyshines in the Kitchen said...

Denise, thanks so much for hosting an awesome challenge! We'd never even thought about making gumbo before, and are so glad that we did. The recipes and instructions you provided were fantastic. We'll certainly be following them again many times!

Laissez les bons temps rouler!

Creating Nirvana said...

Your roux looks delicious, and your spice jar looks like it would make a great Christmas gift. Thank you for hosting such a great challenge this month.

Jenn said...

Thanks so much for hosting Denise!! It was really a lovely challenge!

Anonymous said...

Great challenge and great gumbo. I also like the idea of the fried okra as a garnish. Now begins the longest three days of the month. Waiting on the next challenge. Thanks again for all the hard work.

Carolyn said...

Your pictures are fabulous! I loved this challenge--Hometown flavors! I'm a new follower--would love a follow back =)

Audax said...

Denise thank you so much for hosting this fabulous challenge I really enjoyed making and eating the gumbos so much and I have to say that your challenge write-up and photos are exquisite marvellous work and your gumbos look so gorgeous marvellous work on this challenge. Superbly done!

Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

chef_d said...

Thank you for hosting this month's challenge, your seafood gumbo looks delicious!

Kim said...

That is a BEAUTIFUL dish. Wonderful flavors and colors! And kudos for keeping up with Daring Kitchen challenge!


Lisa said...

Denise, thank you so much for the awesome challenge! I can't wait to make it again, especially the chicken and sausage gumbo! Your gumbo's are outstanding! The photos just mouth-watering and beautiful. Hard to look at because it makes me want gumbo again, right now!

Sarah said...

Your photos make gumbo look so elegant. This was a fantastic challenge. Thank you for hosting it and reminding me of how delicious gumbo is.

MissVicky said...

Thanks for such a fun and challenging recipe! I really enjoyed my first Daring Cook challenge!! :)


Bunkycooks said...

This was a perfect choice for your challenge. Sorry I wasn't still doing the challenges, but I will definitely make the recipe. It looks fabulous!

Claudia said...

This was such a delicious challenge. I love, love, love Gumbo! And, Jambalaya. The recipe was perfect, and now I want to try Seafood Gumbo and Gumbo Z'herbes for sure.

Suzler said...

Denise, thank you for a wonderful, wonderful challenge this month! I'd never tried gumbo before, so I learned a lot & I'm sure I'll be eating it many times over. I absolutely have to make the seafood recipe next. Your photos make it especially tempting. Wow!