Seafood Gumbo

published Mar 3, 2023
Seafood Gumbo Recipe

A gumbo that's abundant with seafood and will make your kitchen smell incredible.

Serves8 to 10

MakesMakes about 3 quarts

Prep15 minutes to 20 minutes

Cook1 hour 20 minutes to 1 hour 40 minutes

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Overhead photo of a bowl of seafood gumbo on a kitchen counter. Glass of beer in upper left
Credit: Photo: Andrew Bui; Food Styling: Rebecca Jurkevich

I’ve written in the past about growing up in Texas and discovering Southern recipes — like Hoppin’ John — that bore a striking resemblance to the Nigerian dishes I was used to eating at home. Hands-down, the dish that most immediately revealed its African antecedents to me was seafood gumbo. I tried it for the first time at a restaurant as a pre-teen, and I was shocked at how much it reminded me of the seafood okra soup that my mom made all the time. The heftiness, the slip of the okra, and the abundance of delicious seafood.

I have grown into quite the gumbo connoisseur since that early foray, and this seafood gumbo is one of my favorite dishes to cook when it’s chilly outside. It’s comfort food on every level. It’s warm and filling, it’s full of a variety of seafood and different vegetables, and it makes for the most delicious leftovers — the flavors build up beautifully over the next few days.

Because seafood can be a bit pricey, this is more of a special-occasion dish for me, but when an occasion arises, or the seafood aisle has some good deals going on, this gumbo feels like a real celebration. That being said, I often make more economical versions like classic Cajun gumbo or this vegetarian gumbo by chef Omar Tate.

Credit: Photo: Andrew Bui; Food Styling: Rebecca Jurkevich

What Is Seafood Gumbo Made Of?

Gumbo is one of those foods that it’s nearly impossible to pinpoint one “authentic” recipe for. There are so many different variations and versions of gumbo across the South, and they all represent the people and the places where they’re made. In my version of seafood gumbo, I keep things pretty close to what would usually be referred to as Creole gumbo, with a dark roux, tomato paste, and a variety of seafood.

What Goes Well with Seafood Gumbo?

In my opinion, the most important answer is rice. Preferably long-grain, but I’m not picky. In addition to rice, my usual go-to sides for seafood gumbo are cornbread and a heaping of collard greens.

What Is the Difference Between Gumbo and Jambalaya?

The simplest way to put it is that gumbo is a thick, roux-based stew that is often served with rice, and jambalaya involves a stew that is cooked with rice.

Seafood Gumbo Recipe

A gumbo that's abundant with seafood and will make your kitchen smell incredible.

Prep time 15 minutes to 20 minutes

Cook time 1 hour 20 minutes to 1 hour 40 minutes

Makes Makes about 3 quarts

Serves 8 to 10

Ingredients

  • 5 cloves

    garlic

  • 1

    medium yellow onion

  • 2 large stalks

    celery

  • 1

    large green bell pepper

  • 2 sticks

    (8 ounces) unsalted butter

  • 1 cup

    all-purpose flour

  • 1/4 cup

    tomato paste

  • 1 32-ounce) carton

    low-sodium seafood stock or chicken stock (4 cups)

  • 1 (11 to 12-ounce) bottle or can

    light beer

  • 2 tablespoons

    gumbo filé or or filé powder

  • 2 tablespoons

    Cajun seasoning

  • 2 teaspoons

    kosher salt, plus more as needed

  • 1

    medium lemon

  • 1

    habanero pepper (optional)

  • 12 ounces

    fresh or frozen okra

  • 8 to 10 ounces

    crab meat (claw and lump)

  • 8 ounces

    shucked oysters or bay scallops

  • 1 pound

    peeled and deveined medium raw shrimp (41 to 50 per pound), thawed if frozen

  • 1/2 medium bunch

    scallions

  • Hot sauce, such as Tabasco or Crystal

  • White rice

Instructions

  1. Prepare the following, placing each in the same large bowl as you complete it: Mince 5 garlic cloves (about 2 heaping tablespoons). Finely chop 1 medium yellow onion (about 1 1/2 cups) and 2 large celery stalks (about 3/4 cup). Dice 1 large green bell pepper (about 1 cup).

  2. Melt 2 sticks unsalted butter over medium heat in a heavy-bottomed 5-quart or larger pot or Dutch oven. Add 1 cup all-purpose flour and whisk to combine. Cook, whisking constantly, until the roux is a deep brown (like turkey gravy), 20 to 25 minutes. Watch the roux carefully for burning, scraping the bottom and the sides of the pot often. The roux should have a nutty aroma, and the consistency will become thinner as it cooks and the flour loses its thickening power.

  3. Add the onion mixture and stir to coat in the roux. Add 2 tablespoons gumbo filé, 2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning, and 2 teaspoons kosher salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are softened, about 8 minutes. Add 1/4 cup tomato paste and stir until the paste is darkened in color, 2 to 3 minutes.

  4. Pour in 1 (32-ounce) carton low-sodium seafood stock or chicken stock and 1 (11 to 12-ounce) bottle or can of light beer. Squeeze the juice from 1 medium lemon into the pot. Add 1 habanero pepper if using. Stir to combine, thoroughly scraping down the sides and bottom of the pot to make sure that the roux is fully dissolved. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil.

  5. Reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the flavors of the gumbo begin to meld together, 30 to 35 minutes. (The gumbo can be made up to this point, cooled, and refrigerated. Bring back to a simmer before continuing.) Meanwhile, if using fresh okra, trim the stem ends and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces. Pick over 8 to 10 ounces crab meat for shells. Drain 8 ounces shucked oysters if using.

  6. Uncover, add the okra, and stir to combine. Bring back to a simmer. Add the crab meat, oysters of 8 ounces bay scallops, and 1 pound medium peeled and deveined raw shrimp. Stir to combine.

  7. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the seafood is just cooked through and the okra is tender, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, thinly slice 1/2 medium bunch scallions and cook white rice for serving if desired.

  8. Discard the habanero. Taste and season hot sauce 1 tablespoon at a time and more kosher salt as needed. Serve on cooked white rice garnished with the scallions, with more hot sauce on the side.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Refrigerate leftover gumbo in airtight containers for up to 5 days.