Seafood Gumbo

This Seafood Gumbo recipe is one I learned years ago and like to make when oysters are in season here in Japan.  Fresh Oysters, Shrimp, Crab in a deep brown stew made from chocolate brown roux, okra, fresh veggies, spices and hot sauce.  Serve it over white rice.

I spent quite a bit of time in the southern United States – Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana.

Louisiana was home to French Settlers who were driven out of Acadia, in Nova Scotia, by the British in the 18th Century.  The Cajuns settled in Southern Louisiana and formed tight knit communities who remain to this day.  Cajun traditions and culture has a strong influence in the Deep South, and Cajun cooking is famous around the world.  Jambalaya, gumbo, shrimp creole, and dirty rice to name just a few are familiar foods in many countries.

Gumbo is a stew that is spicy and loaded with seafood, veggies, and sometimes sausage or chicken.  I learned this recipe from a chef who worked in New Orleans’ French Quarter.  My family and I eat it every year during oyster season, after the first of the year in Japan.  I hope that you enjoy it as much as we do.


Seafood Gumbo

Gumbo is a staple in the US Deep South, and once you try it you will know why.  I make it whenever oysters come into season and there are lots of variations – chicken, sausage, shrimp, oyster, crawfish, and various combinations such as chicken and oyster gumbo.  In the US you can buy a spice called gumbo fillet, which is made from sassafras leaves.  It helps thicken the sauce.  For this recipe I substitute thyme and add plenty of okra for the perfect texture.  Enjoy this over rice with your favorite hot sauce!

15 minutes 75 minutes Makes 8 servings
PREP 15 minutes
COOKING 75 minutes
YIELD Makes 8 servings


  • 6 cups water
  • 1 lb of fatty bacon
  • 3 lbs of assorted seafood- shrimp, crab, oysters
  • 1 onion
  • 1 tomato
  • 1/2 lb okra
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 TBSP Cajun seasoning
  • 1/4 cup hot sauce
  • 1/2 tsp Thyme


  • Wash, peel and chop onion, wash and slice tomato, celery and okra.

  • In a large stainless steel stockpot, cook the bacon on medium high heat. Remove the bacon from the pot and set aside.   Leave the bacon grease in the pot.

  • Add about 1/2 of the flour.  Stir while cooking and scraping the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon.

  • Continue to add flour and stir until all the flour has been added.  The roux should maintain the consistency of thick mud.  If you do not have enough bacon grease to maintain a muddy consistency, gradually add in some cooking oil (olive, grapeseed, peanut or vegetable oil all work fine).  Continue to stir the roux and scrape the bottom of the pot about 15 minutes until the roux burns and turns a deep chocolate colored brown.

  • Gradually add in the water, Turn down to medium, and stir the mixture until it comes to a gentle boil.

  • Add the vegetables (celery, onion, okra, tomatoes), 1 TBSP of Cajun seasoning, the hot sauce.

  • Turn the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes stirring occasionally and scraping the bottom of the pot as it simmers.

  • Add in the bacon and the seafood, turn the heat up to medium.

  • When the gumbo reaches a light boil add the thyme and the remaining Cajun seasoning.  Stir gently until the ingredients are well combined.

  • Turn the heat back down to simmer.  Cover and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  • Serve hot over white rice.  Guests can add hot sauce to taste.


  • The secret is in the roux.  You can use olive oil in lieu of bacon fat for a lighter roux.  It’s important to cook the roux until it is very dark- the gumbo will take on the color of your roux.


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