Thursday, October 27, 2011

Recipe: Louisiana Shrimp Gumbo, good and spicy!

Creole is New Orleans city food. Communities were created by the people who wanted to stay and not go back to Spain or France. – Paul Prudhomme 

I would LOVE to live close to a Gumbo Shop... Photo: abakedcreation, Flickr ccl
I heard the stupidest thing on TV this last weekend. A chef was telling the world to rinse the  mucilage (goo/ropiness) from their thawed frozen okra before frying it.

It’s things like the above that make one doubt a lot of what these chefs tell us.

This is the size to cut your okra. Photo: snickclunk, Flickr ccl
Why is that stupid you may ask? Well, it’s because that (don’t EVER rinse it off) ropiness is the thickening agent in making gumbo. It is one of three potential thickeners, the other two being roux and filé powder. 

But the primary reason for using okra in the first place is to thicken. It’s good, but not particularly delicious. I wouldn't seek it out on its own, shall we say...

Gumbo is a pretty easy thing to throw together. Sometimes the rice is cooked in the broth and sometimes not. If not, the gumbo is served over it in bowls.

It’s an interesting meal as well as it combines flavours from very diverse cultures including French, Spanish, natives, African slaves and others. If there ever was a “melting pot” dish in an actual pot this is it. Okra is a very traditional African ingredient to cite the origin of just one gumbo component.

When the weather turns cold it’s good to have something a little spicy to eat. It helps the warmth get into your bones.

I hope you like this recipe. Gumbo always "hits the spot."

Louisiana Shrimp Gumbo
Prep: 10 min  |  Cook: 20 min  |  Serves 4
Photo: simplerich, Flickr ccl
1 lb shrimp
3/4 lb sausage (dried andouille or another fresh spicy sausage)
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 tbsp butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup celery, diced
4 cloves garlic
1/2 lb okra, sliced
1 green pepper
1 large can whole tomatoes, and their liquid
spice mix below (use some or all of it)
cooked long grain rice for 4

Spice mix:
3 tsp paprika (smoked if you have it)
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp cracked black pepper
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp dried rosemary
3/4 tsp dried thyme

Not everyone has access to Andouille sausage. If you don't you can
substitute a spicy sausage in its place. Andouille is usually cured, but Pete's
Frootique in Halifax serves store-made fresh. Photo: Shawnzrossi, Flickr ccl
Heat the oil and butter in a large sauté pan or soup pot. 

Begin cooking the rice in a separate pot. It usually takes about 25 minutes. (5 to bring water to a boil, 15 to simmer and 5 to sit.)

Fry the sausage in the oil until browned, about 5 minutes. Remove, let cool and slice into bite-sized pieces.

Clean the shrimp while you’re doing the next step and set aside in a different bowl than the sausage. They get added at different times.

Add the onion, garlic, celery and okra. Fry until the onion has softened and the okra is “ropey.” The ropiness is what thickens your gumbo liquid. Do not rinse or otherwise try to get rid of it. 

If you’re using frozen okra it will probably be ropey before frying. That’s OK, and perfectly normal. See my rant above…

Add the green pepper and continue to cook for about 2 minutes. Then add the tomatoes and break them up with a spatula. Stir in the spice mixture.

Bring to a simmer and let cook for 5 minutes. Then add in the sausage. Let cook for 5 more and then add the shrimp. Only cook the shrimp until they become opaque – about 3-5 minutes.

Taste for salt. You can adjust any of the seasonings you wish at this point as well.

Serve immediately on top of hot cooked rice.


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1 comment:

  1. I started reading this blog post and thought where the hell does one get Andouille in Halifax. I've seen it mentioned many times on the food network. You read my mind. Did you get fresh ochra too? Or did you use frozen? Looks yum. I love me a little spice! I've got some spicy Italian sausage home that might work but frankly I was a little disappointed with it. More spice in a hot dog. Might do in a pinch though.