Posted by: gdevi | August 23, 2012

Shrimp and Okra Gumbo

I got some lovely okra from my garden this year and so I made this delicious shrimp-tilapia-okra gumbo yesterday. You can make the gumbo with roux, or without roux. I made it with roux, Creole style. Roux and okra together make the gumbo thick. Remember “file gumbo?” You can either use okra, roux, or file to thicken the gumbo. I used shrimp, tilapia and some ham (for K and D–I don’t eat meat). What I really wanted was crawfish, and we don’t get crawfish in Lock Haven, Pennsylvania. Just thinking about crawfish makes me swoon!

Preparation time: About an hour to cut all the vegetables, clean the shrimp and tilapia

Cooking time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

1 cup okra cut into half inch thickness (wash the okra before cutting it. It becomes slimy if you wash it afterwards. Also, you can gently sautee the okra in a bit of oil before adding it to the roux mixture or fry it in the roux itself to get rid of the slime.)

1 cup green onions chopped

1 cup celery chopped

1/2 cup carrots

1 cup zucchini

1 cup tomato chopped

1 cup green bell pepper chopped

1-2 long green chillies

1 tbsp garlic chopped

5-6 bay leaves

1-2 tbsp thyme

1-2 tbsp oregano

2 tbsp Creole seasoning  ( I used this creole seafood seasoning I picked up from this voodoo shop in the French Quarter when I was in New Orleans for a conference last year. It is probably touristy stuff, but it’s good.)

2 tbsp paprika or cayenne

1 tbsp black pepper

2 cups fish stock or chicken stock

3 cleaned fillets of tilapia or another firm white fish

2 cups cleaned, shelled, deveined shrimp

You can also add crawfish, mussels, scallops etc. I didn’t have any of these things here. So it is the poor man’s shrimp gumbo this time!

1/2 cup chopped smoked ham
To make the roux:

4 tbsp butter

2 tbsp all purpose flour

Method

In a bit of oil, sautee the cut okra so that the slime is gone and the pieces are clean.

In a heavy bottomed pan, melt the butter on medium heat and when it starts to bubble add the flour into it and mix quickly with a whisk taking care not to burn the roux. This should take no more than 5 minutes. Into the roux, add the garlic, green onions and green pepper and fry for about three or four minutes. Do everything in medium heat taking care not to burn the roux. Into this mixture add the fish stock, stir well, and when the roux starts to thicken, add the okra, celery, zucchini, carrots, all the herbs, paprika, chillies, tomatoes, ham, the Creole seasoning pretty much everything except the fish. Allow the gumbo mixture to cook in medium heat. When the vegetables are sort of cooked–this should take maybe 15 minutes–add the fish. If the gumbo is very thick, add more fish stock. I don’t cut the tilapia since it will flake off on its own. Fish cooks very quickly so the gumbo will be done in another 10 minutes. Take care not to overcook the shrimp. You might even add it later when the tilapia is sort of cooked. You have to sort of eyeball everything. Taste the gumbo and adjust the seasoning to your liking.

Garnish with chopped parsley just before serving.

The prepared gumbo should look like this:

See all the vegetables and the fish cooked in this delicious sauce. Serve with warm or hot cooked rice. In Louisiana, they serve it really beautifully. Put rice in the middle of a bowl and spoon plenty of gumbo around it. We serve rice and fish like that in Kerala as well. Sweet, isn’t it? If I have another life, I would want to be born in Louisiana as a chef.

Eat well now, my dears. The university opens on Monday and I am going back to teach. It will be Newman’s Own Vodka Sauce and Spaghetti from Monday onwards!

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