Shrimp Gumbo

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Preparation info

  • Serves


    with rice
    • Difficulty


Appears in

Seductions of Rice

By Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid

Published 1998

  • About

Gumbo is a slow-simmered stovetop dish, a cross between thick soup and stew, that is traditionally served over plain white rice in Louisiana. It is a close cousin to the callaloo of Trinidad (usually made with okra and crab or chicken). In some ways it is most like the sauce dishes served over rice in West Africa, with their combinations of vegetables, a little meat or fish or smoked oysters, and lots of flavorful sauce to help the rice go down.

The word gumbo comes from gombo, a West African word for “okra.” A classic gumbo starts with fat (chicken fat, pork lard, or bacon drippings) and some flour to make a roux. Once the roux has browned, celery, green peppers, and onions are added and cooked (like a Spanish sofrito) until soft. From there, methods vary. Often, as here, okra is added and slow cooked with very little or no extra liquid until well softened and starting to brown. If chicken or sausage (andouille) are used, they go in early; when there’s only shrimp, as here, it is added near the end of cooking. The dish cooks and simmers until done, the okra helping to thicken the sauce and the slow-simmering giving the flavors time to blend.

In this shrimp gumbo, the okra is cooked down, then the broth is added and flavored with wine or lemon juice, and the shrimp briefly boiled until cooked. Serve hot over Plain Long-Grain Rice or Plain Cuban Rice.


  • 3 tablespoons chicken fat or bacon fat (or substitute olive oil)
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 medium onions, minced
  • 1 green bell pepper, stem, seeds, and membranes discarded, and cut into small dice
  • 1 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 pound okra, stems and any tough tips removed, and sliced into ¼-inch lengths
  • 3 cups mild fish stock or chicken stock or water
  • ¼ cup dry white wine or fresh lemon juice
  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled or unpeeled, deveined if you wish
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • teaspoons salt, or to taste
  • Generous grinding of black pepper


In a large heavy pot, heat the fat over medium heat. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring, until well browned. Add the onions, bell pepper, and celery and cook, stirring, until well softened, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the cayenne, okra, and ½ cup of the stock or water and cook, stirring frequently, over medium-low heat until the okra is completely softened and shapeless, about 30 minutes. If the okra begins to stick before it is completely cooked, add a little more liquid.

Add the remaining stock or water a cup at a time, stirring to blend in the okra. Bring to a boil, add the wine or lemon juice, and simmer for 10 minutes. Bring to a vigorous boil and add the shrimp, parsley, and seasonings. Cook the shrimp until its color changes completely, about 3 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings if necessary. Serve hot over rice.