Uptown Seafood Gumbo

submitted by Barry Shabaka Henley


My maternal grandmother, Blanche Scott, had this Gumbo recipe passed down to her by her Enslaved African Grandmother - however it had never been written down. As a result, I learned to make Gumbo in the oral recipe tradition of our Ancestors, a pinch of this and a handful of that. I learned from her daughter, my mother Jamesetta Wagner (Jamie) while I was a student at City College of San Francisco.
I told my mother I wanted to learn to make Gumbo and she had me help her make it for a family dinner. I did all the prep. I chopped the onions and celery, peeled the shrimp, cleaned the fish, stirred the Roux and watched and listened carefully as my mother made a kind of Creole magic come to life in her pot of Gumbo.
A month or so later my mother Jamie was having a dinner party with friends. She called to inform me that under her supervision, I would be making the Gumbo for the party. I made it by myself and it turned out better than I ever expected. That was 1976 and since then I have been making It every year for Christmas.
When my 111 year old godmother, the late Mamie Lang Kirkland would come out from New York for Christmas, I would cook her Gumbo...
Now when I cook, eat or speak about Gumbo, it is my tribute to these three incredible ancestors. My grandmother, Blanche Scott, my mother, Jamesetta (Jamie) Wagner, and my godmother, Mamie Lang Kirkland.


Uptown Seafood Gumbo


Ingredients:

  • ½ cup of safflower oil

  • ¾ cup of brown rice flour

  • One large onion

  • 1 cup of green onion

  • 1 cup green bell pepper

  • 1 ½ cup of celery

  • 5 cloves of minced garlic

  • A pinch of dried thyme

  • A pinch of cayenne

  • A large handful of smoked paprika

  • A pinch of salt

  • A pinch of black pepper

  • 2 bay leaf

  • Hand full of chopped parsley

  • 2 pound of peeled cleaned shrimp

  • 1 cup of oysters shucked

  • 2 pound of crab meat

  • Handful of Gumbo File

  • ½ cup of chopped cilantro

  • 1 whole cleaned crab

  • 2 pound of cod or white fish boneless

Directions:

The Roux

  1. Combine oil and flour in medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon till a kind of gravy starts to emerge, when nearly brown put in a handful of chopped onions, stir till brown, about 20-30 min. Take from fire soon as done you don’t want to burn it.

  2. In a large pot combine chopped onions, celery bell pepper 1/2 cup of cilantro 2 bay leaf garlic, a pinch of thyme, cayenne salt and black pepper, handful of Spanish smoked, paprika, cilantro, green onion, half a handful of parsley, all the oysters and all the fish

  3. When Roux is browned and thick almost like a paste, pour from frying pan into the pot covering the chopped veggies fish and cleaned crab. Fill pot up with spring water leaving room for seafood later.

  4. Put pot on a boil for 15 min. Be careful not to have it stick Reduce heat and simmer low and slow, for about 90 min. or until liquid in pot becomes thick and dark and veggies and fish are cooked to pieces. You can throw pinches and handfuls of seasoning, and whatever you need as it simmers.

  5. This could take as long as 2 3 hours its up to you, but you must keep a vigilant eye on process. Stirring tasting, through out.

  6. When you get a kind of cross between a stew and a thick soup, It is time to add Shrimp and Crabmeat turn up heat for about 3 min. then turn off, and take off the fire.

  7. Allow cooked Gumbo to sit 1½ hours to fully integrate ingredients and flavor. If you can wait till tomorrow it will be twice as it is good as today. (Save some!)

  8. Serve with white basmati rice and garnish with a pinch of parsley.

  9. Have plenty of hot sauce of your choice on hand.

  10. Serve with warm French and or Sourdough bread.

Bon Appetit!

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