When it comes to making seafood gumbo, just about the only thing that people can agree on is that first you make a roux. But what kind of roux? Some say a dark mahogany roux is the key to a great gumbo, while others say it should be the color of peanut butter. Should you add sausage, or simply feature fresh seafood? And the most hotly contested argument - should you add tomatoes? Some say it’s a must, while others say it’s sacrilege.
However you chose to make your gumbo, this recipe is a great way to feed a large crowd or a small family, as it doubles easily and freezes beautifully.
Heat a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat; add 2 tablespoons of the oil and heat through. Add the chopped okra and sauté until just starting to turn light golden brown, about 10 minutes. (Note: This will help prevent the okra from having a slimy texture.) Using a slotted spoon, transfer the okra to a paper-towel lined platter; set aside until needed. Wipe the pan clean with paper towel.
Place a large sauce pot or Dutch oven over medium heat; add the remaining oil, then whisk in the flour until smooth. Cook over medium to medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the roux is the color of peanut butter, about 15 minutes. If you see black specks in the roux, dump it out and start over; the roux must remain evenly colored throughout the cooking process. (Note: Cooking the roux slowly over low to moderate heat while stirring constantly
is the key to perfect dark roux. Resist the temptation to stop cooking the roux before it is the desired color. It’s worth the wait!)
Just as soon as the roux achieves the desired color, add the Creole seasoning, salt, onions, celery, bell pepper, garlic, bay leaves, thyme and hot pepper sauce; cook, stirring constantly, until the vegetables are soft, about 8 to 10 minutes.
Add the stock all at one time, whisking vigorously to remove any lumps that have formed.
Add the tomatoes, and bring to the boil; immediately reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 1 hour. (Note: It is very important to skim off any foam (scum) or oil that rises to the top of the pot during cooking. Otherwise, your gumbo will have an oily texture.)
Add the shrimp, oysters and sautéed okra to the pot, and cook just until the shrimp turn pink and the edges of the oysters curl, about 2 to 3 minutes. Continue skimming off any foam (scum) or oil that rises to the top of the pot during cooking. Add the crabmeat, parsley and green onions, and cook just until the crab is warmed through, about 1 minute more. If the gumbo is too thick, add a little bit of water to thin.
Stir in the lemon juice, then taste and adjust the seasoning as needed with Creole seasoning, hot pepper sauce and lemon juice; remove and discard the bay leaves.
Serve the gumbo in warmed soup bowls over a spoonful of hot white rice. Garnish generously with green onions, and serve immediately.
Serves 4 to 6
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