Back when I was in my 20's, I was lucky enough to visit New Orleans during Mardi Gras. Our host took us to some great restaurants and we sampled some of the best food in the world. How could such simple ingredients taste so wonderful?
Well, I'm told it's a result of their French ancestors being ousted from Canada and deposited in one of the most hot and humid states in the union. They worked their epicurious magic on the simple ingredients available there, and reinvented French cooking here in the U.S. That's one reason.
A few years later I was visiting Nashville, TN on business, and I stayed in what was then the Stouffer Nashville Hotel, right in downtown Nashville and I believe near the river. I really enjoyed the character and flair of Nashville, and the view of the river with the mist rolling off of it.
The hotel served up a seafood gumbo that was so delicious that I later asked for it when the hotel sent me an evaluation form. To my surprise, they actually sent it to me!
By using this recipe I depart from my Cajun/Creole bible, Cajun-Creole Cooking by Terry Thompson, which is sadly hard to find now. This gumbo recipe is declared delicious by everyone I've ever cooked it for, and it is an often-requested family favorite. What's also nice is that it doesn't have to cook for hours, like some gumbo recipes. True aficionados may notice that the roux step is nearly left out, but trust me, this gumbo is still wonderful.
I hope you enjoy! I have changed it to adapt to the products and sizes I use to make this dish. Of course you can substitute fresh tomatoes and okra if you like. You can also use chicken stock if you don't have fish stock. Or if you use fresh crab and cook it first, you can use that water.
Seafood GumboServes 6-8
Ingredients:1 Tbsp. clarified butter
3 strips bacon, diced
1/2 medium onion, diced
1/2 cup celery, diced
1/2 red pepper, diced
1/2 green pepper, diced
16 oz pkg frozen okra
1/2 Tbsp. paprika
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 pinch Tabasco sauce
1/2 tsp black pepper, cafe grind
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp oregano
1 med clove garlic
2 Tbsp. Gumbo File
2 1/2 Tbsp. flour
3 quarts, fish stock
1 large can diced tomatoes, in juice 23oz
Bay shrimp, 10 oz
1 can Lump crab, 6 oz.
1 cup rice, cooked
Andouille Sausage, cut into pieces, 8 oz.
1 1/2 tsp salt
Directions:1. Saute bacon in butter until bacon is crisp
2. Add onion, celery, peppers and okra; saute for five minutes.
3. Add all spices, herbs and gumbo file; saute for two minutes.
4. Add flour, cook for two minutes.
5. Add fish stock.
6. Add tomatoes; simmer for 20 minutes.
7. Add Bay shrimp, crab, rice, sausage and salt; simmer for five minutes.
Nashville photo taken by Chuck Felix, downloaded from http://www.freedigitalphotos.net