One true sign of the change of seasons is that the Cajun gumbo pots appear at the first hint of a drop in temperature. My black iron is always ready to come out of hibernation as well, and with a quick trip down to Vermilion Bay, I had seafood gumbo on my mind.
From Dulac to Grand Chenier and all along the coast of South Louisiana, there are fishermen, harvesters and processors that make their living off the waters of the Gulf. These families have weathered nature’s fury and man-made disasters of all kinds but have remained resilient. I’ve gotten to know many of these families, and I can tell you that they are truly dedicated to the mission of preserving a way of life that is a time-honored tradition in Louisiana.
With my seafood gumbo mission, I headed to Cypremort Point to see if I could catch a shrimp boat at the docks. “The Point”, as the locals call it, is an idyllic fishing village surrounded by water located on Vermilion Bay in St. Mary Parish. While there are a few locals, most of the houses on the island are essentially fishing camps for mostly weekend visitation. Luckily, I found all my ingredients in no time at all at Vermillion Bay Seafood. I loaded up with an ice chest full of Gulf shrimp along with some just-right gumbo crabs. I stopped in Youngsville on the return and bought a quart of fresh-shucked oysters, a pound of white crabmeat at Rouses supermarket along with the rest of my Cajun seafood gumbo ingredients.
Supporting our local fishing industry by buying local is an obligation that I feel deeply about. It irks me to no end when I see Louisiana cooks, even restaurants, buying overseas imports. For the sake of a few dollars, they lose sight of the economic impact their purchase has on the rich heritage and tradition of our seafood culture. Like me, I hope you buy local whenever possible.
Truth be told, there is nothing unique about this seafood gumbo recipe, but I can tell you there is something very special about all of the ingredients in it. The hands of Louisiana fishermen harvested all these shrimp, crab, and oysters, and I can assure you will taste the quality–and the love. This Seafood Gumbo is Cajun cooking at its best.
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 large yellow onions, peeled and diced
- 1 cup diced celery
- 1 cup diced bell pepper
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 12 cups shrimp stock
- 4 bay leaves
- 4 gumbo crabs, cracked and quartered
- 3 pounds large raw Louisiana Gulf shrimp, peeled
- 1 pint raw Louisiana oysters, with juice
- 1 pound white Louisiana crabmeat
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Acadiana Table Cajun Seasoning Blend, see recipe here
- Dash of hot sauce
- Gumbo file’
- 6 cups cooked Louisiana long-grain white rice, such as Supreme
- 1 cup diced green onion tops
- That’s right, first you make a roux. Over medium-high heat, combine the oil and flour in a black iron pot or heavy dutch oven. Begin stirring and don’t stop until you reach a peanut butter colored roux. You will smell it as it cooks, and it is a nutty aroma you seek that is perfect for a seafood gumbo. Darker roux is for heavier wild game dishes so don’t go too far past this point.
- Stop the roux from cooking by adding the onions, celery, and bell pepper. Continue stirring until the vegetables turn translucent and then add the garlic. Combine all the vegetables and then add the stock along with the bay leaves and the gumbo crabs. Bring the liquid to a slow boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and let it cook for 1 hour. Check it and give it a stir every 15 minutes and be sure to skim off any fat or foam from the surface.
- The key to this gumbo is not to overcook the seafood. You can stage the base gumbo to this point and hold it there indefinitely. Actually, it gets even better the longer it sits. When you are ready to serve it up, add the shrimp, oysters, and crabmeat and cook until the largest shrimp are done, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper along with a light hand on the Cajun seasoning. Don’t over season seafood gumbo. Your guests can always add their own hot sauce and gumbo file’ at the table.
- Ladle the gumbo around a mound of rice and garnish with a sprinkle of diced green onion tops. Ice-cold beer and hot French bread are a given.
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