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Sassafras root and filé powder in montreal?

pierrepblais Feb 12, 2014 05:54 PM

Hi all!

I am slowly cooking my way through Alinea's cookbook and have reached a recipe that calls for both sassafras root and ground sassafras leaves (also known as Filé powder or gumbo filé I believe).

Anyone knows where this could be found in Montreal?

I've also heard that sarsaparilla bark could be a substitute to the sassafras root, if that's any easier to find around here...

thanks for any tips! Pierre

  1. porker Feb 12, 2014 07:29 PM

    I'd be curious as well.
    I've looked for it (filé gumbo) specifically maybe 20 years ago for quite a long time, then casually ever since and have not come across it.
    I buy it in bulk when in Louisianna - enough to last until my next trip.

    I never looked for sarsaparilla around here. Again, saw it in the south. They also have a concentrate liquid.

    If all else fails, I believe you can get both on-line.

    1. j
      jonhall Feb 13, 2014 01:55 AM

      I have had no luck either both through spice stores as well as some of my suppliers to restaurants. I have bought it online myself.

      5 Replies
      1. re: jonhall
        pierrepblais Mar 1, 2014 07:07 AM

        If I do end up getting it online, any suggested source?

        1. re: pierrepblais
          jonhall Mar 1, 2014 11:32 AM

          Last time I bought some was from the Louisiana crawfish company www.lacrawfish.com I bought it while I was having some crawfish shipped to me.

          1. re: jonhall
            porker Mar 1, 2014 01:39 PM

            Hey Jon, I saw on another thread that you had them "shipped to Canada". Just curious, does LA crawfish co. ship directly to Montreal? Live? Cooked?

            1. re: porker
              jonhall Mar 1, 2014 05:29 PM

              Yup, shipped directly to your door. They reccomend ordering two days in advance in case they get held up at the border. They arrived alive, not as rambunctious as I would have liked but alive no less. They do ship cooked as well but why bother when they are in season now.
              I have also found them cooked and frozen at Walmart in Plattsburgh, not an amazing substitute, their legs and claws were almost all separated and collected at the bottom of the bag, but when you can't or don't want to have them shipped fresh...

              1. re: jonhall
                porker Mar 2, 2014 07:47 AM

                They used to have good, inexpensive cooked, frozen bugs at price chopper (Plattsburgh or Champlain), but they are no longer cheap, nor good.

      2. b
        bar_b_q_steak Feb 14, 2014 05:50 AM

        The Spice Station in the Mile End

        174A Bernard St. West
        Montreal, QC H2T 2K2

        or in NDG

        5610 Monkland Ave
        Montreal, QC H4A 1E3

        1 Reply
        1. re: bar_b_q_steak
          pierrepblais Mar 1, 2014 07:06 AM

          Thanks, I've been meaning to go to the spice station for a while, most of my spices come from olive et epice at JTM, and I've had not luck there for this. Anatole spice in little Italy says it has sarsaparilla bark in its tea/ herbal section, but no sassafras, though I haven't had time to check it out. Of course I'll probably end up going online for this, as other have suggested, I just always try and see if it's available locally first.

        2. y
          ylsf Mar 3, 2014 09:00 AM

          I am not sure about in Montreal but you might find this info useful:


          I would start by contacting some herb suppliers (there are places that sell it in Toronto) but you might be better off searching for the fife at grocery stores/markets without the safrole oil.

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