- Two 1-pound red snappers—cleaned, filleted, skinned and coarsely chopped, heads and bones reserved
- 1 quart chicken stock or low-sodium broth
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3/4 pound okra, thinly sliced and smashed in a mortar and pestle
- Two 3-ounce cans smoked oysters
- 10 small dried shrimp (see Note)
- 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 3 dried cayenne or arbol chiles
- 3 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
- 18 large head-on shrimp (about 2 1/4 pounds)
- 1/2 cup palm oil (see Note)
- 1/2 pound jumbo lump crabmeat
- Kosher salt
- Steamed rice, for serving
- In a large pot, combine the fish heads and bones with the stock, onion and 8 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes, skimming off any foam from the surface. Strain the broth into a large bowl.
- Wipe out the pot and return the broth to it. Add the okra, oysters, dried shrimp, garlic, chiles and fish sauce and bring to a simmer. Cook over moderately low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the snapper fillets, shrimp and palm oil and simmer until the fish and shrimp are just cooked through, about 4 minutes. Stir in the crab and cook for 1 minute, until heated through. Season with salt. Serve with rice.
Dried shrimp are available at Asian markets. Palm oil (also known as dende oil) comes from the fruit of the African oil palm. It adds a rich flavor and red color to this gumbo. Look for it at specialty food shops and on amazon.com.
Slightly sweet brown ale quells the heat of this spicy gumbo.