National Gumbo Day is observed annually on October 12. Gumbo is an African word for okra, which is the key ingredient for thickening in this dish. Gumbo is a heavily seasoned stew-like dish that originated in Louisiana, USA.
It is usually made using a strong-flavoured stock, a thickener (okra, filé powder, or roux), meat, shellfish and seasoned vegetables. The seasoned vegetables may include onions, bell pepper and celery, which are common ingredients in Cajun Cuisine known as the “holy trinity”. Gumbo is commonly served with rice and differentiated by the type of thickener used, as mentioned above.
History of Gumbo
Originated in Louisiana, it is believed that Gumbo was first documented in 1802, which described the menu at a gubernatorial reception in New Orleans, and appeared in various cookbooks in the late 19th century. Just like the state of Louisiana itself, Louisiana cuisine is a fusion and celebration of many cultures. Gumbo combines the culinary practice of French, Spanish, African, German, Italian, Choctaw, Cherokee, and Alabama cuisine.
In the 1970s, the dish gained popularity when for the first time, the United States Senate cafeteria added Gumbo to the menu in honour of Louisiana Senator Allen Ellender. Today, Gumbo is the state dish of Louisiana and enjoyed by many across the state and the USA.
Since National Gumbo Day is today, it is an excellent opportunity to enjoy a taste of Louisiana Cajun cooking, that is Gumbo. It is hard for you to walk into any restaurant in New Orleans and not find Gumbo in the menu.
For us Malaysians, it might be hard to find restaurants nearby that serve Gumbo, and flying halfway around the world across the Pacific Ocean is not always an option. But there are some excellent Gumbo recipes online that we can follow and innovate according to our Archipelago palate and here are three of them.
Big Easy Gumbo
As the name suggests, this recipe is easy for first-timers to prepare and requires ingredients that you can easily find in any supermarket.
- ½ cup peanut oil
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup chopped sweet onion
- 1 cup chopped green bell pepper
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 2 tsp. Creole seasoning
- 2 tsp. minced garlic
- Chicken broth
- 4 cups shredded cooked chicken
- 300 grams’ andouille sausage, cut into ¼-inch-thick slices (you can substitute this with any other sausage brands in the local market)
- 1 ½ cups frozen black-eyed peas, thawed
- 500 grams’ shrimps, peeled (15 – 20 count)
- Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat and gradually whisk in flour.
- Whisk the mixture constantly until the colour becomes chocolate.
- Reduce the heat to medium and stir in onion, green bell pepper, celery, Creole seasoning and garlic.
- Then gradually stir in chicken broth and add chicken, sausage and black-eyed peas into the mixture.
- Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil.
- Then, reduce the heat back to a low, simmer and occasionally stir for 20 minutes.
- Lastly, add the shrimps and cook until they turn pink.
- Serve over hot rice and enjoy.
If you are a vegetarian, this recipe is worth trying, especially if you are planning a vegetarian menu for your brunch or dinner party with your friends. Feel free to substitute the vegetables according to your palate and preference.
- ½ cup of vegetable oil
- 1/3 cup flour
- 1 cup small onion, chopped
- 1 cup little green bell pepper, chopped
- 3 stalks celery, chopped
- 1 cup diced tomatoes
- 2 cups fresh green beans
- 2 cups sliced carrots
- 1 cup diced parsnip
- 1 cup fresh sliced okra
- ground cumin
- 1 tbsp. dried oregano
- ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
- Stir together oil and flour in a Dutch oven until smooth.
- Cook over high heat for about 10 minutes or until roux turns a dark caramel colour. Don’t forget to stir constantly.
- Add onion, bell pepper and celery and cook until the vegetables are softened.
- Then, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and cook further for about 40 minutes, until the carrots are softened. Serve over hot rice and enjoy.
Are you an avid fan of seafood? Then this dish is just right for you. The thick broth and the deep flavour of seafood is the perfect combination for any occasion, especially served over hot rice. This recipe uses blue crab, lobster tail and shrimp but feels free to use other types of seafood according to your preference.
- 1 ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup of corn oil
- 3 quarts’ homemade stock
- 2 cups finely chopped onion
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 1 cup chopped green pepper
- 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 3 bay leaves
- 2 blue crab
- 1 large lobster tail with shell
- 1 cup of medium shrimp peeled and deveined (15 – 20 count)
- 3 tsp. Ragin Cajun seasoning
- 2 cups crab meat
- ¼ parsley finely chopped
- 1 bunch green onions chopped
- Preparation of homemade stock
- Boil 4 quarts of water in a large pot.
- Add one whole chicken, shrimp shells, quartered large onion, 4 stalks of celery, 12 whole peppercorns and 1 tsp. of salt.
- Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for another 2 hours.
- Preparation of Gumbo
- Add in flour and oil in a large pot to make the roux until it turns dark golden.
- Then add the chopped vegetables and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes.
- Ladle the homemade stock one cup at a time with constant stirring.
- Then, add the lobster tail, blue crabs, seasoning and bay leaves. Continue cooking for about 30 minutes.
- Remove the lobster tail and allow to cool. Then, remove the shell and chop into pieces and set aside.
- Continue cooking for another 30 minutes. Then add the shrimp, crab meat and cooked lobster tail.
- Then, cook for about 10 minutes with occasional stirring. Once done, remove from heat and garnish with green onions and parsley. Stir, cover and allow to sit for 15 minutes.
- Don’t forget to serve with rice.
Hope you will enjoy trying these recipes and don’t forget to share your result with your fellow friends and critics on this special day.