Gumbo

Disclaimer #1: As is oft the case, I point judicious readers to our ubiquitous confessional “Why I can’t be trusted“. But still, observe:

Gumbos are like unicorns, all alike, but no two exactly alike. There’s a sort of conventional gumbo wisdom that says you need a few common things, but that you are allowed–nay, expected–to play, to invent, to take ownership of your particular gumbo. These things are:

The Southern Soup Holy Trinity: Onion, celery, and green bell pepper. The standard trinity uses carrots instead of peppers.

Okra: Okra.

Roux: This is usually a 1:1 mix of flour and fat (butter, oil, shortening, bacon grease, etc). A gumbo is supposed to be somewhere between a soup and a stew. I find that the natural emulsifier in okra thickens the gumbo to the almost-stew stage on its own, so I ditched the roux in this version. A more authentic version would probably keep the roux and up the stock and/or water.

Meats: These are usually sausage, chicken, and shrimp. We used our tempeh soysage and Joanna/Jennifer’s Seitan Chik’n.

Seasoning: These include cajun spice and gumbo file (fee-lay) powder among others. You can buy a premade cajun spice or make your own. Gumbo file is made from ground sassafras root, sometimes with ground thyme as well. The gumbo file may be a little hard to track down. Our local coop had it (so any place with a good selection of Frontier brand spices). You can also look for ground sassafras.

Tomatoes: Tomatoes.

Disclaimer #2: I fully expect Jennifer from Scrumpdilly to correct me if any/all of this is wrong. She’s actually from Louisiana. She’s made gumbo before. I’ve eaten it. There’s no recipe. Real Southerners keep their gumbo recipes in lead-lined wooden boxes, buried beneath their homes, guarded by raccoons. Fact.

Gumbo

  • 1 lb okra, cut into disks
  • 1 lb tempeh soysage
  • 3 seitan chik’n cutlets, cut into strips
  • 1 large white onion, diced
  • 2 small – medium stalks celery, diced
  • 1 large green bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 2 cups veggie broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 cups tomatoes, with juice (1 large can)
  • 1 tsp cayenne
  • 4 tsp cajun spice
  • 2 tsp gumbo file powder

As with most soups, you’ll want to start by sauteing the onion, pepper, and celery in a large pot over medium heat. When they start to soften, add in the soysage and chik’n strips, browning lightly. Add in the broth, water, tomatoes, spices, and okra, in that order. Bring to a light boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes or (better) longer.

Serve on its own, over rice, and/or with Vegan Dad’s Cajun Chickpea Cakes.

12 comments ↓

#1 N.I.K. on 03.25.10 at 1:06 am

Real Southerners keep their gumbo recipes in lead-lined wooden boxes, buried beneath their homes, guarded by raccoons. Fact.

Half-truth of the skip-rope set. Haints are equally common.

#2 Jennifer Albaum on 03.25.10 at 12:37 pm

I am not really correcting, just adding commentary:1. I don't put okra in my gumbo. It's not necessary, just a preference for some. In Southwest Louisiana, where I'm from, I've had it both ways, but my favorites don't include it. It's still a gumbo without it. Just like you said, gumbos vary.2. Tomatoes aren't found in Cajun-style, Acadiana gumbo. That's New Orleanian, creole gumbo with tomatoes.3. Can't make a gumbo without a roux in my book, but you know I'll be trying your version!4. Never heard of any trilogy other than the Cajun Trilogy: onion, celery, bell pepper. Oh wait, there's the MesoAmerican Plant Trilogy (maize, beans, squash), but that doesn't apply to gumbo unless you want to mix & match, which might be interesting.5. I hate raccoons. I'd never have one guard my gumbo recipe, which, in fact, is in my head based on memory.6. We always served gumbo over rice, then with a side of potato salad. Typical in Louisiana.I need to have y'all over for a gumbo!

#3 ryan on 03.25.10 at 8:51 am

This is pretty close the vegetarian gumbo Val and I made a while back. We also ditched the roux because of the okra’s insane gooey slimy powers.

Although by the looks of it you could use a bit more cayenne.

#4 Jennifer on 03.25.10 at 12:41 pm

I am not really correcting, just adding commentary:

1. I don’t put okra in my gumbo. It’s not necessary, just a preference for some. In Southwest Louisiana, where I’m from, I’ve had it both ways, but my favorites don’t include it. It’s still a gumbo without it. Just like you said, gumbos vary.

2. Tomatoes aren’t found in Cajun-style, Acadiana gumbo. That’s New Orleanian, creole gumbo with tomatoes.

3. Can’t make a gumbo without a roux in my book, but you know I’ll be trying your version! I want to see what happens.

4. Never heard of any trilogy other than the Cajun Trilogy: onion, celery, bell pepper. Oh wait, there’s the MesoAmerican Plant Trilogy (maize, beans, squash), but that doesn’t apply to gumbo unless you want to mix & match, which might be interesting.

5. I hate raccoons. I’d never have one guard my gumbo recipe, which, in fact, is in my head based on memory.

6. We always served gumbo over rice, then with a side of potato salad. Typical in Louisiana.

7. I’ve had good luck with a mixture of Field Roast Italian-style “sausage” and Chipotle-style “sausage”. What a kick!

I need to have y’all over for a gumbo!

#5 Jennifer on 03.25.10 at 12:42 pm

P.S. Your gumbo looks DELICIOUS! I’d eat it right up!

#6 mark on 03.26.10 at 4:53 pm

Ha! I knew it! Maybe a guy would have known better if a certain blog had posted the recipe 😉 If I was at all capable of planning ahead and not just cooking to my (and Amy’s) whims, I would have just emailed you for your recipe. But that would have been far too simple, and far less adventurous. We are the Error Flynns of gumbo.

I think the next time we try a gumbo we’ll rock it Acadian-style and see how that goes. I do love a roux. It pained me to leave it out, but _man_ does okra slime the hell out of some shiz. It was like our gumbo had said “I don’t know” on You Can’t Do That On Television.

And Yes! Do have us over for gumbo, please and thank you!

P.S. If raccoons aren’t guarding your gumbo recipe, what _are_ they guarding?

#7 Jennifer on 03.29.10 at 6:47 pm

I thought of one more tidbit: My gumbo, because it’s not all thick ‘n’ shiz is sometimes called “gumbo juice” in my part of Louisiana. But we never called it that. Just called it gumbo.

Poo, I just tried to find you a link to this website I like all about gumbo and other cajun cooking, but I can’t find the one I was looking for. oh well.

#8 Junie on 12.17.15 at 12:12 am

Is anyone else upset at the moemevnt to avoid vaccinating kids in fear of autism?People think that vaccines cause problems like autism and should not be forced on children. There is no evidence of this, and while nothing is perfect these vaccines save lives. I am seriously disheartened to see conspiracy theories like this actually gaining weight. The Today show can get away with putting a Pediatrician next to a grieving mother and calling them both reasonable sources of information. I was recently reading an article (in Playboy if you can believe- what is this world coming to when they are the voices of reason?) discussing how the internet has allowed theories like this to gain momentum because “evidence” is so readily available, even if it is crap. McCain thinks that there is strong evidence of a link, and Obama has been quoted as saying that the evidence is inconclusive. Of course studies looking for a link are inconclusive . There are a lot of factors to consider here. People want it to be inconclusive because they haven’t found the answer they want yet. You can’t prove nonexistence. Autism is scary and people are pointing fingers, but what happens when this fear starts causing more direct problems like a return of polio?I am not saying that we shouldn’t look at all, but why is this being used as a reason not to vaccinate kids? I am scared that my (future) children may see diseases that are now pretty much eradicated in my country just because people believe what they want to (which I know I am probably doing myself to some extent).Correlation is not causation. Just because two things increase at the same time does not mean that one causes the other. Autism used to not even be a diagnosis; the kids were just thought to be retarded or weird. That must be considered when looking at the rise in diagnosis- it partially comes from the rise in recognition of it. Even if this is a new rise, just because there has been a rise in other things does not mean that they are related. There has been no reasonable link between autism and vaccines. I know it’s scary and people want to find SOMETHING to explain it, but beliefs have nothing to do with science. It may make sense to say that kids have too much pumped into them, but where is the evidence that it is harmful? Why is it bad? Just because something is chemical and artificial does not mean that it is harmful, that is just fear of the unknown. My future children will certainly be vaccinated, but I fear for classmates and the small failure rate in vaccines (vaccinated but not immune- not sure how much there is). It is NOT just the business of the parents in this situation- it is an issue of public health. These vaccines are partially effective because of vaccinating every kid. Just because they aren’t around much now doesn’t mean they can’t come back. People travel a lot, all it takes is one person to start an outbreak.I’m just a college student. What can I do? I am frustrated to no end at this- but I just want to get though school right now. Is this fear actually going somewhere, or am I really the one thats needlessly scared? I know that is a lot, but I am frustrated and I needed to get it out. I want to know if anyone else gets scared that there may be more support for parents trying to avoid vaccinating their kids, and if that means there will be a rise in diseases we thought were gone.I am all for personal freedom, but when your decision may affect other kids (that did not become immune to the vaccine or have compromised immune system) you take away the right to safety away from that other person. They have the right to be free from preventable diseases.For people that don’t want to read:THE QUICK VERSION:Parents against vaccinating kinds- scary?There are small risks from the vaccine, but think of all the other lives it has saved. Nothing is perfect, and I can admit that. It is silly to avoid them based on the small maybes, tiny risk of reaction or bigger risk of disease? The issue here is finding a way to predict these reactions, not avoiding the vaccination.And allerigc reactions (which could happen with just about any drug) leading to disability from lack of oxygen are different from saying that is causes autism.Right now it is the minority. I am worried about the potential for that 1% to rise as the very loud minority starts swaying parents. I am pretty sure that vaccines have a failure rate of people that don’t end up immune, what about those kids?The risk of contracting diseases will rise if this beleif takes hold.This is a public health issue, I don’t want parents to panic at thier kids being forced the vaccine but there are people out there that are in danger that also don’t have a choice.How is having protected kids around your child not preventing them from getting diseased? If no kids were vaccinated, then it just takes one kid to risk spreading it to others. One kid in a class of vaccinated kids means their most likeley source of that disease is either outside of the classroom, which would be limited to if they traveled to a place where the vaccine was not used. If no one was vaccinated, then every kids connection to diseaseoutside of class (travel, family members, etc) is connected to that class, and if one kid gets it, the whole class is at risk.

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