Commander’s Palace Seafood Gumbo
Commander’s Palace in New Orleans is famous for its gumbo and chef Tory McPhail serves up some of the best in town.
3 cups diced onions
2 cups diced green bell peppers
1 28-oz can diced tomatoes
1 cup tomato sauce
1½ tsp thyme, dried
1½ tbsp minced garlic
4 bay leaves
½ tsp salt
½ tsp freshly ground pepper
1½ lbs frozen cut okra, defrosted (or fresh, if you can find it)
2 quarts seafood stock*
2 lbs shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 dozen oysters, shucked
1 lb lump crabmeat
2 tbsp filé powder (ground dried sasafras leaves; available at specialty food stores.)
Combine onions, peppers, tomatoes with juice and tomato sauce in a heavy, 8-quart pot. Cook on medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add thyme, garlic, bay leaves, salt and pepper; blend well and simmer for 10 minutes.
Add okra. When okra is bright in colour and is cooked but still crisp, add stock. Bring to a rapid, rolling boil, then lower heat. Add shrimp, oysters and crab meat and simmer for 15 minutes longer.
Combine filé powder with 1 cup of the soup liquid. Remove gumbo from heat and stir in the filé-soup mixture. Correct seasoning to taste. Serve over cooked rice and season to taste with Tabasco sauce.
*Fish or seafood stock can be found at most specialty food stores, including Whole Foods. You can also make your own by boiling shrimp shells and/or fish bones, carrots, celery, salt, pepper and onions in a large pot filled with water to cover. Simmer until the broth is flavourful; strain and use. You may also substitute chicken stock.