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Feb 5, 2005 09:26 AM

gumbo advice

  • b

i just bought the fixins (oysters, crab & shrimps) to make my first gumbo. okra looked good so i am using first question: can i make this in a cast iron dutch oven? someone told me i shouldn't if using okra. is that true?2nd question: got ony tips, techniques or recipies to share?

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  1. Be sure and use as roux. Nothing worse than gumbo "soup". Rouxs burn very easily so stay with it and keep stiring. I read "stir like hell" in one recipe :)
    I use cast iron a good deal. The only thing 'm shy about is using anything overtly acidic. like heavy tomato dishes. I wouldn't hesitate using cast, but again, don't burn the roux. Cast retains heat for a long time- hard to cool off quickly if need be.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Spencer
      the food guy

      Defintely use cast iron for gumbo. Begin with a roux. Before you make the roux, cut up your trinity - onions, celery, and peppers. When the roux is done the way you want it, pull the pan off the heat and add the trinity. it will cool the roux enough to keep it from burning. You might want to saute the okra in a separate pan. As you saute it, the "slime" that bothers many people, will cook off, although that is probably what thickens the gumbo, which won't matter since you are making a roux. The roux is an important component in the flavor.

      1. re: the food guy

        I always use a gumbo file' when I don't use okra- added right after the gumbo is done. You ever do this?

        1. re: Spencer
          the food guy

          I always make a roux, usally use okra, and always use some Uncle Bill's file
          I met the guy who makes it at Jazzfest in NOLA. He's the real deal - grows his own sassafras and grinds it by hand. It's expensive and worth it.

          1. re: the food guy

            in my dealings with new orleaneans [sic] it is either okra or roux for gumbo, not both together
            please chime in on this

            1. re: byrd

              We always had either "gumbo" or "okra gumbo," the latter was thickened entirely by okra. The regular roux gumbo still had okra in it, but not nearly as much and was not used for thickening. We always had the okra gumbo in the late summer, when we had more okra than we could use otherwise. We would freeze what we couldn't eat to use in the regular gumbo throughout the winter. I'm from extreme SE, TX, and my Mom and Maw Maw are from New Iberia.

              1. re: rudeboy

                Absolutely, okra is not necessary to make a gumbo. Thickened with ground sassafras (file) is my favorite kind.

    2. I can give more info, but tell me, how are you thickening? With a roux, or with the okra? I use roux and add de-slimed okra, then add file to the bowl. I do the roux in a cast iron skillet, then transfer to any kind of pot (except raw aluminum).

      Use good fish stock, not water, and allow simering time for the roux to marry with the stock.

      1. Quoting from "The Global Kitchen" by Troth Wells (The Crossing Press, Freedom, CA 95019: 1995), 'gumbo' is one of many African names for okra. The word 'okra' probably derives from Ghana, and the word 'gumbo' from Angola. The plant belongs to the cotton family. It is indigenous to Africa, and was brought to the West Indies on slave ships. (And from there, obviously, to New Orleans. So you can't have gumbo without okra.)
        BTW, this cookbook has meat and vegetarian recipes from Africa, Asia and Latin America. It has a lot of good photos and illustrations. Measurements are given in both US and metric. Borders has it, plus several other books by Troth Wells that I am not familiar with.