By Kit Wohl
(Photos also by Kit Wohl)
Seafood Okra Gumbo Classique
Frank Davis (New Orleans television personality and cookbook author) shared this recipe with Wohl.
Note: For a successful gumbo preparation, Wohl suggests that the cook assemble all the ingredients first for ‘mise en place’ ease of cooking. Also, be sure you start with a very large pot that holds at least 10 quarts. You’re cooking New Orleans style now!
12 Tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1 pound smoked sausage, diced
4 16-ounce cans sliced okra or 4 10-ounce packages of sliced frozen okra
2 gallons water or seafood stock, divided
2 sticks corn-oil margarine
6 Tablespoons all purpose flour
3 large white onions, finely chopped
3 teaspoons garlic powder
2 Tablespoons liquid crab boil seasoning
3 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
2 pounds shrimp, shelled and chopped
8 1.25 ounce packages of sun-dried shrimp, optional
1 pound fresh crab meat
12 raw gumbo crabs (small hard-shell crabs) cleaned/quartered
1 16-ounce can tomato sauce
8 whole bay leaves
1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped
2 Tablespoons kosher or sea salt
3 pounds shrimp, whole and raw
4 cups cooked rice
Place 6 tablespoons of the vegetable oil in the pot over high heat. Add the smoked sausage and brown well. The fat will be the base for browning the okra. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the okra to the sausage and also brown it well. It should cook in about 20 minutes. Pour in 1 quart of water and let the contents simmer, covered, on low heat.
In a small saucepan, begin preparing a brown roux. Place the remaining 6 tablespoons of vegetable oil, the 2 sticks of margarine and the 6 tablespoons of flour and cook until the flour turns brown. Add the onions, garlic powder, liquid crab boil seasoning and the thyme and stir briskly until the onions become tender and translucent. Add the roux mixture to the okra in the large pot and blend together well. Add the remaining 7 quarts of water, increasing the heat level to medium-high and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and allow the liquid to simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring constantly.
Set the whole raw shrimp aside and add the chopped shrimp, sun-dried shrimp (if using), crab meat, gumbo crabs, tomato sauce, seasonings, and stir. The gumbo liquid should be brownish with a reddish tinge, and the okra should be broken up and suspended in the liquid. Cover the pot and simmer on low heat for about 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Then uncover the pot and add the 3 pounds of whole shrimp. Cook on high for about 5 minutes. When the shrimp are done, take the pot off the fire and set it aside, but leave the cover on for 20 more minutes. This will allow the seasonings to blend fully.
Finally, after the gumbo has cooled slightly, toss in the steamed rice and stir it in well. Once again, cover the pot and let the rice grains soften for at least 40 inutes to pick up the flavors. Freeze any leftovers.
(Leftovers? Dream on. This recipe is pure delight and fit for a Mardi Gras king and his court. There won’t be a drop left.)