Sunday, August 27, 2006


gumbo also does not make a pretty picture
I'VE NEVER. . . cooked okra, made gumbo, cooked catfish

The 3 things that I wanted in a recipe were:
  1. to use okra
  2. to use just okra and not both okra and to use Filé powder
  3. to make a gumbo with to use roux

I looked at maybe 200+ gumbo recipes before choosing this one and most of them were totally different from one another. Some cooked for 30 minutes, some for 12 hours. Some had roux, some didn't. Some used okra, some file and some neither (although it is my understanding that is ain't gumbo without file powder or okra).

There are 2 things that most gumbos have in common:
The first is Gumbo relies heavily on what people refer to as the holy trinity of creole flavors; celery, green pepper and onion.

The second is roux. It is kind of a pain in the ass to make as you have to constantly stir it for 20+ minutes. Roux is not something you can walk away from. I stopped stirring for 15-30 seconds at a time to chop vegetables, but never longer than that.

roux after 5 minutes of cooking

roux after 20 minutes of cooking (you can cook roux until it is a deep brown if you like and your wrist hold up)

The name Gumbo, derived from various Bantu dialects (Southern & Central Africa) terms for okra (i.e. quingumbo, grugombo, gumbo, gombo, ngombo gomboaud, ngumbo, ochinggombo). (The word is one of very few African language words brought over by slaves which have entered the English language. Some of the others are goober or goober pea (peanut) also of Bantu dialect origin, Yam from West Africa, and cooter (turtle) of Bantu and Mandingo origin.

That little nugget came from here.

Here is the recipe I settled on:

Sausage & Catfish Gumbo
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup flour
4 garlic cloves
2 cups chopped onions
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped green bell pepper
10 ounces frozen cut okra --If you use fresh chop up and soak in water overnight and then rinse
before using.
14 ounce can diced
5 cups chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne
1 teaspoon salt
2 bay leaves
1 pound Andoulle cut into 1/2 inch chunks
6 catfish fillets, washed and chopped

Make a roux with the oil and flour, browning it slowly and stirring frequently. Cook over medium heat for about 30 minutes until it is a rich milk-chocolate color. When the roux is just right, add the garlic, onions, celery, and green pepper, stirring vigorously. Cook 2 to 3 minute
s. Turn the heat to low and cook 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Skim any excess fat off the top.

Add the remaining ingredients and simmer for 1 hour or more. Stir occasionally.
Makes: 3 quarts

While I was making this I was quite put off. Maybe it was the catfish or how slimy to okra was. Maybe it was just that it looked disgusting. I was pretty sure I wasn't going to eat any. Then, sort of by accident I tasted it. I just put the spoon in my mouth between it's trip from the gumbo pot to the sink. My gumbo was good. I'm going to eat more. My 10 mo. son is eating it as I type. But, he's like Mikey. He'll eat anything.

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