Seafood Gumbo

This gumbo is rich and toasty thanks to the dark roux. It’s wonderful with oysters, shrimp and crab, but New Orleans chef Slade Rushing of Brennan’s says you can substitute what’s good in your area: clams, for instance, or even chicken. Filé powder is traditional in gumbo (you can find it at It’s made from ground sassafras leaves and adds an earthy, vegetal flavor. Slideshow:  More Cajun and Creole Recipes 

Seafood Gumbo
Friday night calls for gumbo. This one is rich and toasty thanks to the dark roux, and it's filled with oysters, shrimp and crab. Photo: © Con Poulos
Active Time:
1 hr 20 mins
Total Time:
3 hrs 50 mins


Crab Stock

  • 1 onion, quartered

  • 1 head of garlic, halved

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns

  • 2 gallons water

  • 6 live blue crabs


  • 1 cup canola oil

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

  • 3/4 pound andouille sausage, finely chopped (2 cups)

  • 1 large onion, finely chopped

  • 2 celery ribs, finely chopped

  • 1 red bell pepper, finely chopped

  • 1 green bell pepper, finely chopped

  • 1/2 cup finely chopped garlic (12 large cloves)

  • 1/2 pound okra, thickly sliced

  • 1 pound tomatoes, finely chopped

  • 1/2 teaspoon filé powder

  • 1/8 teaspoon Creole seasoning, such as Zatarain’s

  • 2 thyme sprigs

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt

  • 1 pound jumbo lump crabmeat, picked over

  • 1 pound large shrimp, shelled and deveined

  • 2 dozen freshly shucked oysters

  • 2 tablespoons hot sauce, such as Crystal or Tabasco, plus more for serving

  • Basmati rice and sliced scallions, for serving 


Make the Crab Stock

  1. In a large pot, combine all of the ingredients except the crabs and bring to a boil. Add the crabs and simmer briskly over moderate heat for 1 hour, skimming as necessary. Strain the stock into a pot. You should have about 12 cups; add water if necessary, and reserve any extra stock for another use. Discard the crabs.

Make the Gumbo

  1. In a large pot, heat the oil. Whisk in the flour and cook over moderately low heat, whisking constantly, until the roux is deep mahogany brown with a nutty aroma, about 40 minutes.

  2. Stir in the andouille, onion, celery, red and green bell peppers, garlic and okra and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables soften, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes, filé powder, Creole seasoning, thyme, bay leaf, salt and the 12 cups of crab stock. Simmer over moderate heat for 1 hour and 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  3. Stir in the crabmeat, shrimp, oysters and 2 tablespoons of hot sauce and cook until the shrimp are white throughout, about 3 minutes. Discard the thyme sprigs and bay leaf. Ladle the gumbo into bowls and top with rice. Garnish with scallions; serve with hot sauce.

Make Ahead

The gumbo can be prepared 3 days ahead through Step 3. Reheat gently and cook the seafood just before serving.

Suggested Pairing

Fragrant, honeyed Loire Valley Chenin Blanc.

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