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  • Writer's pictureCherie Claire

Anytime is gumbo time!

When the weather dips from sweltering to lovely in Louisiana, people exclaim, "It's gumbo weather!" Truth be told, we don't need autumn's chill or winter's cold to cook up a gumbo. We can eat it anytime. We just eat it more during the cold-weather months.

In my "Cajun Embassy" series my three main characters meet over a bowl of gumbo at Columbia Journalism School, all homesick for Louisiana. They become lifelong friends and call themselves "The Cajun Embassy." Of course, all three of my heroines make an awesome gumbo.

Because love — and a good gumbo — cures everything!

In the first book, "Ticket to Paradise," (which is a FREE download as an ebook) newspaperman Martin Taylor woes my Cajun heroine with a gumbo he learned how to create when he worked for the Thibodaux (Louisiana) Comet newspaper years before. This is a recipe I would use to create a seafood gumbo from scratch, but I'm going to be honest with you. I use Cajun Power gumbo starter instead of making my own roux. I know my family and friends will faint upon reading this but I don't have time to make a roux (too busy writing!) and Cajun Power makes AMAZING gumbo starters, not to mention other products.

Martin’s Seafood Gumbo

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2/3 cup flour

2 large yellow onions, chopped

2 green bell peppers, chopped

1 cup celery, chopped

1 pound shrimp (about 30-35 shrimp), preferably wild Louisiana shrimp

1 pound crabmeat

1 dozen shucked oysters, liquid reserved

Crab pieces, if desired

2 (32-ounce) boxes seafood stock

Salt, pepper and/or Cajun/Creole seasoning to taste

2 cups cooked Louisiana rice

Green onions, chopped, for garnish

Directions: In a large soup pot, over medium heat, mix the oil and flour for a roux, stirring constantly, being careful not to let the roux burn. Keep stirring until you receive the right darkness of roux. The color and time it takes to finish the roux will depend upon your preference but a light roux is preferable for a seafood gumbo.

If you use Cajun Power's gumbo starter, follow the directions on the jar. Basically you pour the jar's contents into the pot - simple, right? You still have to add the following; this only takes the place of a roux.

Add to the pot the chopped onions, bell peppers and celery, known as the “Cajun Trinity,” and stir. Cook over medium-high heat until the vegetables are tender or until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the seafood stock and oyster juice and bring to a gentle boil, then simmer, uncovered for about 30 minutes. Add the shrimp and cook for 5 minutes. Add the oysters and crabmeat and cook for 5 minutes. Add additional salt, pepper or Cajun seasoning to taste. Remove from heat, serve gumbo over rice and garnish with chopped green onions.

Note: A cast iron soup pot works best. You can also make your own seafood stock, but we listed boxed seafood stock that is easily found in grocery stores. Also, Walmart sells Guidry’s Creole Seasoning mix — the “Cajun Holy Trinity” of onions, bell peppers and celery — so for those who want to save time, substitute Guidry’s.

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