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Seafood gumbo - where did I go wrong?

I made Emeril's seafood gumbo recipe the other night. I tried very hard to get the right ingredients and follow the steps exactly, it took quite a bit of time. What I ended up with was a soup that tasted very good, spicy and seafood-y, but it looked AWFUL. A totally unappetizing shade of putrid brown. If I ate it with my eyes closed it was fine, but I couldn't get around the way it looked, so after a couple of bowls I dumped it before my hubby got back from his trip so he couldn't see it.

I didn't think I did the roux wrong - the recipe called for it to darken to the color of milk chocolate and I think I got it there but I was worried about it burning, so maybe I didn't. I did have to use canned crab instead of the 'gumbo crab' that was called for. I'm thinking that my downfall was that I couldn't figure out how to skim it - I was getting white foam constantly. Does that sound like it might have been the problem? What would you use to skim that stuff off without taking a lot of the liquid with it? Any other things I might have done wrong? Could I have fixed it? I really did like the flavor and I'd love to try again but it looked SO bad that I don't want to spend the time and end up with the same result (and that was a lot of nice seafood down the drain - sob).

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  1. Hmm...I am no gumbo expert but I am from Louisiana. Here's my take:

    1) Maybe roux went too dark? My grandmother never took it past a caramel color.
    2) Canned anything (except jarred -- not canned -- oysters) is a big no-no in Cajun cooking. Canned crab doesn't have the flavor consistency of "the real thing".
    3) I recommend doing a more authentic non-Emeril recipe for next time, maybe something from River Road Recipes.

    Just some thoughts...better luck next time!

    1. A properly made gumbo does not inspire one by its looks..it is a muddy/chocolate brown color.
      you could have been right on. Also, if you use a refrigerate/pasteurized canned crab, that is fine. It also typically tastes even better the next day. What was your other dissapoinment other than the look of it??

      1. hmm. I've been thinking about your problem, and instead I have a question. What, exactly did you expect the dish to look like, in that as you said, it tasted fine, but was a "putrid brown" color?

        I guess all gumbo I've had and made, mostly because of the roux, is brown in color. I also make my roux much darker than "milk chocolate" color, mine usually goes all the way to caramel, and indeed, the finished product is brownish, but I've never considered it bad, just is.

        It seems that you've wasted a good deal of nice seafood.

        1. Have you seen pictures of other gumbo to compare yours to? Mine is always a deep muddy brown but it looks like all the other gumbos I've seen. When I make gumbo, my roux is the color of dark chocolate. I take it way past the peanut butter color stage as it adds incredible flavor. Justin Wilson has the best recipes - just stay away from the "easy food" recipe book....it's terrible!

          As far as the foam goes, you may have had the heat too high, causing a bit of foaming. Keep the heat at the lowest your stove can go. You want a very gentle simmer. I leave mine on the stove for over 12 hours. MMMMMMM!!!!!

          1. Sounds like it was perfect. A dark brown roux creates a dark brown gumbo. Nothing you add will lighten it up unless GASP you would put cream in it. Then it would be something, certainly not gumbo. If it tasted good that's what's important, gumbo is all about taste.