Gumbo—especially seafood gumbo—brings back happy memories for me. It was typically served at some point during annual visits to see family, which meant hanging out with a gaggle of cousins I rarely saw … along with aunts, uncles and my grandparents. I loved crabbing with my grandfather to bring home a key ingredient for grandma’s gumbo: blue crabs.Jump to Recipe
Here in Tennessee, procuring the ingredients for a seafood gumbo is not so easy. But I managed to find some fish, crab and shrimp to create something approximate to what I remembered. Finding the ‘Holy Trinity of Cajun Cooking” was easier: plenty of onion, bell pepper and celery to be had.
This recipe modifies a Justin Wilson version (which surprisingly did not use the Holy Trinity) to approximate my childhood version as best I could using frozen and canned seafood—and sadly, no blue crabs. While my version may not be what I would call 100% authentic, it was 100% tasty!
Make Roux Your Way
Many gumbo recipes call for less roux and a one-to-one ratio of flour and oil. Feel free to change the ratio and cut this back to 2 1/2 to 3 cups of each if you desire. Gumbo roux should be very dark, but you can stop at medium and still get a sense of the gumbo’s flavor (mine was around medium, I’d say). And if you haven’t the patience or nerve (or like me, started way too late in the day to make gumbo), jarred roux may be available at your grocery store. That’s what got me started with Black Friday Gumbo.
About Seafood Gumbo
Because my memory is about large gatherings, this recipe makes 2 1/2 gallons of gumbo. (I love making things with my giant stock pot.) Simply cut the recipe back if you want … or save yourself a repetition of roux making and freeze it. Divide into gallon or quart-size bags or orderly freezer-safe containers and grab when ready. It freezes well, but it’s best to reheat in a pot rather than microwave it.
This version of seafood gumbo calls for large shrimp, flounder filets and crab meat. Some gumbo versions do not include fish, and some add oysters. Feel free to adjust the seafood contents to your taste—just keep the same amount of seafood in it. If you’ve got fresh crab, you can clean them, cook them, cut them in half, then toss them in the gumbo. My grandmother pulled the meat out of the shell, but I imagine shelled crabs would make an eye-catching presentation.
Gumbo is traditionally served over rice, but it’s also fabulous over yellow potato salad. You can also eat this straight up as a soup. And be sure to sprinkle some filé gumbo over your servings (do not put it in your pot!). Those sassafras leaves add flavor and thicken the gumbo.
“The soft aroma of old worn cotton from a linen chest, the lingering smell of tobacco on an angora sweater; Jergen’s hand lotion, sauteed green peppers and onions; the sweet, nutty smell of peanut butter and bananas, the oaken smell of good bourbon. A combination of lily of the valley, cedar, vanilla, and somewhere, the lingering of old rose. These smells are older than any thought. Mama, Teensy, Neecie, and Caro, each one of them had an individual scent, to be sure. But this is the Gumbo of their scents. This is the Gumbo Ya-Ya. This is the internal vial of perfume I carry with me everywhere I go.”Rebecca Wells
- 2 C olive oil
- 5 C flour
- 6 C chopped onion
- 3 C chopped bell pepper
- 3 C chopped celery
- 15 oz tomato sauce
- 2 C chopped green onions
- ½ C garlic minced
- 1 ½ C finely chopped parsley
- 6 qt water
- 4 TBSP Worcestershire
- 1 – 3 TBSP salt to taste
- 2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 2 C dry white wine Sauterne, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc
- 32 oz crab meat
- 3 lb shrimp
- 18 oz flounder
- Chop onion, bell pepper, celery, and green onion.
- Mince garlic.
- Finely chop parsley.
- Add water to large stock pot.
- In iron skillet or heavy-bottomed dutch oven, heat oil over low. Stir/whisk in flour until lumps gone.
- Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until roux reaches desired darkness. Note: Traditional roux is very dark. Pictured is a medium roux. A darker roux will bring more flavor to your gumbo.
- Remove from heat.
- Add tomato sauce and chopped green onion. On low heat, cook until roux darkens back.
- Combine roux, garlic, parsley, Worcestershire, cayenne, and wine in stockpot with water.
- Add salt to taste.
- Heat gumbo to medium low and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Early stages especially ensure roux is blending into water and not settling to bottom of pot.
- Add crabmeat, shrimp, and flounder.
- Simmer for 2 or more hours, stirring occasionally.
- Top individual servings with file’ gumbo (DO NOT put into pot.)