Seafood Filé Gumbo


Serves 8-10.

Fairly difficult

Seafood Filé Gumbo


For 1 Batch(es)


  • 2 cups dark roux (ingredients above)
  • 2 large onions, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 2 medium green bell peppers, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 5 celery stalks, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 5 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoons minced fresh thyme
  • 4 fresh bay leaves, minced
  • 1 tablespoons minced fresh basil
  • cups minced flat-leaf parsley, divided
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 Quart(s) seafood stock
  • 6 small blue "gumbo" crabs, cleaned and broken in half
  • Kosher salt and cayenne pepper to taste (but it should be spicy)
  • 3 cups sliced fresh okra (or 1 lb. frozen, sliced okra, thawed)
  • 2 pounds small shrimp (70/90 count, often called "gumbo shrimp"), peeled and deveined
  • 1 pounds blue crab claw meat, picked through to remove any bits of shell or cartilage
  • 1 Quart(s) oysters with their luscious liquor
  • cooked white long-grain rice
  • filé powder, for serving
  • thin-sliced green onions, for garnish
  • Tabasco or Crystal Hot Sauce


  • 2 cups fresh leaf lard (available at Dai Due and my favorite) or vegetable shortening
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

Seafood Filé Gumbo Directions

  1. Begin by making the roux. Melt the lard or shortening in a large, deep-sided cast iron skillet over medium heat.
  2. When the fat is hot, add the flour all at once and stir or whisk quickly to blend the fat and flour until smooth. (Your choice of stirring implement should be guided by the fact that the roux will take a while to make, and metal utensils tend to become very hot. A whisk with a wooden handle or a large wooden spoon will keep the stirring process cool.)
  3. If necessary, use the back of a spoon to smooth out any lumps of flour. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook, STIRRING OR WHISKING CONSTANTLY, until the roux is a deep mahogany color—about 30 to 45 minutes. This process cannot be rushed; deep flavor develops while stirring the roux slowly, and the flour particles must be kept in constant motion or the roux will burn and cannot be used.
  4. If small black flecks appear in the roux, it has been burned and must be discarded; a burned roux will impart a bitter and scorched taste. Use extreme caution not to splash any of the roux onto your skin. It’s lethally hot and can cause a serious burn.
  5. At this point, either continue with the recipe or immediately transfer the finished roux to a heavy metal bowl to cool and use another time or freeze. If cooling the roux, continue to whisk for about 15 minutes to prevent separation.
  6. The roux may be refrigerated for up to a week or frozen for up to 6 months.
  7. If continuing with the recipe, after the roux has reached a deep mahogany color, quickly add the onions, red and green bell pepper, celery, garlic, thyme, bay leaves, basil, ¼ cup of the parsley, oregano and black pepper. Stir to blend into the roux.
  8. Continue to cook, stirring, until the vegetables are wilted and the onion is transparent—about 15 minutes. Set aside.
  9. While cooking the vegetables in the roux, bring the stock to a full boil in a heavy-bottomed, 10–12-quart soup pot over medium-high heat.
  10. When the vegetables are cooked in the roux, add the roux mixture to the boiling stock, all at once, stirring vigorously. Continue to stir until the roux and the vegetables are well blended.
  11. Add the gumbo crab bodies, season to taste with salt and cayenne pepper and allow the emerging gumbo to boil for about 15 minutes.
  12. Skim off any fat that rises to the surface and discard. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 1 hour—stirring often.
  13. Then stir in the okra, shrimp and crabmeat. Cook for an additional 15 minutes, then add the oysters and their liquor.
  14. Cook just until the oysters begin to curl around the edges—about 10 minutes. Do not overcook.
  15. To serve the gumbo, place a portion of the cooked rice (about ½ cup) in the bottom of individual deep rimmed soup plates.
  16. Ladle the gumbo over the rice in each bowl—making sure to get a crab body in each bowl. (They’re traditionally pulled apart and sucked after eating the gumbo–their flavor is quite extraordinary!)
  17. Pass the filé powder to be stirred into the gumbo (about a heaping teaspoon per bowl) and garnish with a scattering of green onions and the rest of the parsley.
  18. Pass the Tabasco or Crystal Hot Sauce for additional pizzazz. Enjoy!

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