Seafood Okra Gumbo
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A favorite of both visitors and locals to New Orleans is seafood okra gumbo.
Recipe yields 6 entrée size servings or up to 12 appetizer sized servings.
- 2 pounds fresh or frozen shrimp, head on, about 40-50 count per pound
- 2 small blue crabs, fresh or frozen
- 3 quarts water
- 2/3 cup, 2 Tablespoons cooking oil
- 1 quart fresh or frozen okra, sliced into half inch rounds
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 2 cups chopped onions
- 1 cup chopped green bell pepper
- 1/2 cup chopped celery
- 1 teaspoon garlic, finely chopped
- 16oz. can chopped tomatoes
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 teaspoons salt (or to taste)
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper (or to taste)
- 1/2 teaspoon white pepper (or to taste)
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste)
Start by peeling and de-veining the shrimp. Afterward, cover the shrimp and place in refrigerator. Next rinse the shrimp shells and heads, placing them in a stock pot with two quarts of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 30-45 minutes. Strain, then discard the shells and heads. Set remaining stock to the side.
While the stock is simmering during above process, wash the crabs well under running water. Put them in a pot with a quarter of water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 20-30 minutes. Strain, saving both the stock and crabs. When the crabs have cooled enough to handle, snap claws off and break the body in the half. Set aside.
In a heavy bottomed skillet, like an iron skillet, heat two tablespoons of oil. Add the okra and sauté over medium high heat for 10-15 minutes until all of what the chefs describe as ropiness is gone. This may take longer if you use fresh okra.
Next, heat the 2/3 cup of cooking oil over medium-high heat in a large (at least 8 quart) heavy bottomed Dutch Oven style post. Once oil is heated, stir in the flour, then keep stirring mixture to make a dark brown roux. This may take 20 minutes or so, but keep stirring until the dark brown color is achieved. It should give off a nutty scent. Then add the onions, bell pepper, celery and garlic. Sauté and stir occasionally until tender. During this sautéing, allow the vegetables to attach to the bottom of the pan, than scrape the bottom with a metal spoon or spatula. This will allow the natural sugars in the onions to caramelize, creating a depth of flavor.
When those vegetables feel tender, add the bay leaves, three peppers, tomatoes and a dash of salt. Cook for ten minutes, repeating the stick and scrape process with the tomatoes. Add the sautéed okra and cook for an additional ten minutes.
Next, add the crab stock and half of the shrimp stock. Bring to a boil, while stirring. Lower the heat, partially cover and let simmer for thirty minutes. Stir occasionally. If too thick, add more stock to thin. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add the crab and simmer for ten more minutes. Now add the peeled shrimp and return to a boil. Simmer until the shrimp are firm and pink, approximately five minutes. Remove from heat.
Best prepared early in the day (or the day before), allowing time for the flavors to develop together. When reheating, stir often and pay attention to the shrimp to prevent over cooking.
Serve over steamed rice.