Seafood Gumbo is rich and flavorful from creating a dark roux and adding crab, shrimp and spicy andouille sausage.
“Laissez les bons temps rouler” ~ Let the good times roll ~
Tender shrimp combines with buttery crab and spicy andouille sausage in a rich, complex base of bell peppers, celery and onion, known as the holy trinity, bay leaves, seafood broth and okra. This Cajun stew is served with white rice and crusty French bread for sopping up the juices. It’s a relatively simple recipe once you have created the perfect roux.
The roux takes time but is absolutely essential in creating the most flavorful gumbo. Making a portion of this gumbo the day before would be an excellent plan for both accentuated flavor and timing. Preparing the base of the recipe then adding the seafood the next day can save time when cooking for others or during the busy weekday.
Ingredients in Seafood Gumbo
- Crab – Traditionally blue crab is used, but you can use your local crab.
- Shrimp – I like using large pink shrimp and throw them in right at the end.
- Andouille – A spicy smoked sausage that adds flavor to the dish.
- Okra – I keep whole okra in my freezer they thicken the gumbo.
- Bell Peppers – Red and green bell peppers.
- Onion – Just your basic yellow onion, save the peel for making broth.
- Celery – Save the end pieces of your celery to make the broth.
- Broth – Both seafood (see recipe) and chicken broth are used.
- Chipotle Powder – I use chipotle powder for its smokiness instead of cayenne .
- Bay Leaves – Essential for flavor.
- Cajun Seasoning – Tony Cachere’s or Zatarain’s work well.
- Flour / Vegetable Oil – Essential for making the dark roux.
Making the Roux
What is a roux? Roux is essential in making gumbo. It’s not difficult, but it does take some patience. Cooking flour and fat together makes a roux and is used for thickening. In gumbo, flour and vegetable oil is often used to achieve a dark brown color and nutty flavor. Because this color takes time to develop, oil is used as it has a higher cooking temperature than butter, which can burn easily.
The four stages photographed below show the development of color over 30 minutes. It is absolutely necessary to continue stirring the roux the entire time to avoid burning. If you burn the roux it cannot be used because the flavor will ruin the entire pot of gumbo. There is no hiding that taste.
Try these other Cajun inspired recipes like Cajun Carbonara, Fried Green Tomato & Bacon Wrapped Shrimp that checks all the texture boxes or Cajun Shrimp Maque Choux a simple classic that is ready in about 20 minutes and showcases sweet corn.
- 1 crab shell
- 8 shrimp shells
- 1 onion peels
- 1 celery ends
- 4 1/2 cups water
- 3/4 cup vegetable oil
- 3/4 cup flour
- 1 cup onion, chopped save outer peel
- 1 cup celery, chopped save end pieces
- 1 cup green bell pepper, chopped
- 1 cup red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 cup andouille sausage dice half, slice half in rounds
- 4 cups seafood broth see notes on making broth from shells
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1 tsp chipotle powder
- 5 large bay leaves
- 1 tsp Cajun seasoning
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp. butter
- 1 pound crab body shell reserved, if available
- 8 large shrimp shells reserved
- 1/2 cup okra
- Combine ingredients and simmer for 30 minutes while making roux. Strain liquid and reserve to use in gumbo.
- Heat oil in a heavy bottom pot over medium heat. Stir in flour using a wooden spoon. Continue stirring until roux is a dark copper penny color. This should take about 30 minutes. If it starts to brown too quickly, just turn the temperature down to medium low or remove from heat for a minute, then continue stirring. (Do not stop stirring because it will burn and taste horrible. If this happens, you will have to start over.)
- After roux is a dark copper penny color, add onion, celery, peppers and diced portion of sausage. Stir to combine 3-4 minutes until softened.
- Add both seafood and chicken broth, chipotle powder, bay leaves, Cajun seasoning and salt. Simmer on medium until reduced by half for about 20 to 30 minutes.
- In a separate pan, sauté shrimp and sliced sausage in butter and a pinch of Cajun seasoning on high heat for about 2 minutes to add a nice color to the outside of the meat.
- Add crab meat, cooked shrimp and sliced andouille mixture. Simmer for another 5-10 minutes.
- Serve with rice, chopped green onions and crusty french bread