I love Southern and Cajun food. Since I love it so much, I thought it was about time I learned how to cook some, so it tastes authentic. Using tips from born and bred Southerners, I developed my own crab gumbo recipe, and I'm darn proud of it y'all.
First, I'll tell ya, if you don't like crab, go ahead, and substitute shredded rotisserie chicken. If you don't like that either, you can use crawfish, or crawfish meat. If you don't like that either, then I don't know what to tell ya, and I don't think this recipe is for you. Move along.... see ya later.
Now, first thing's first. Let me explain what okra is, if you are not familiar with it. I posted a photo above, for your reference. Okra is a vegetable grown in Southern regions of the United States, that looks like long green fingers, when picked. You can trim off the ends and slice it before using it. When cooked, it adds body to soups and stews, much like rice or potatoes do. For this recipe, you can use fresh or frozen okra. If you use fresh okra and slice it, and run your hands under water to wash them afterwards, you will notice that your hands feel very slippery. Don't be alarmed. This is normal. This is just what okra does. After you wash your hands a few times, that slick feeling will disappear.
Another quick note: You can use either dried or fresh rosemary in this recipe. I enjoy growing my own herbs, and sometimes have a surplus. I also tend to buy fresh herbs, but I don't want to let the extra go to waste. Most herbs can be dried and then stored in jars. If you want to know more about this process, check out my blog on this site.
Additionally, I use red tomatoes when making crab gumbo. I like the color that it gives the gumbo. If you don't have red tomatoes on hand, feel free to use any color you like. The same goes for the onion; I use whatever kind of onion I have at the time. Use one that makes you happy.
Once you get cookin' be sure to stir all the way down to the bottom of the pot so the uncooked rice doesn't camp out there and stick. The rice will cook as the gumbo cooks. Make sure it's swimming around.
I always have leftovers, and if you do, too, wait until the gumbo cools and then store it in gallon-size freezer ziplock bags. Flatten out the bags in your freezer for maximizing your storage space. Oh, and make sure that the bags are sealed really well before you freeze them. You don't want them springing a leak!
1 cup sliced okra (or 8 oz. package frozen okra)
1/3 large onion, chopped
8-12 oz. uncooked crab meat, crab claws, or 6 “gumbo” crabs** (Do NOT use imitation crab meat. This will destroy the flavor; if you do not like crab, substitute shredded rotisserie chicken.)
2 Roma tomatoes (or 2 small tomatoes), chopped
2 tsp. salt
½ tsp. ground black pepper
¼ tsp. ground red pepper (optional)
1 tsp. rosemary (crumbled, if dried, or chopped if fresh)
1 Tbsp. white rice
32 oz. chicken broth
24 oz. water
1. Slice ends off of each piece of okra, and discard. Slice okra into ½ inch slices. (If using frozen okra, skip this step.)
2. Use 1/3 of a large onion and chop. Use any onion of your choice. The color and kind does not matter. *Tip: You can save the remaining onion for another use. Leave the root base and skin on the leftover onion when you cut what you need. Then, wrap the remaining onion loosely in a paper towel. Place the paper towel wrapped onion in an open, loose sandwich baggie in your refrigerator.
3. Chop the tomatoes.
4. Chop rosemary, if using fresh.
5. Place the chicken broth, okra, onion, and tomatoes in a large 4-quart pot.
6. Add black pepper, red pepper (optional), salt, rice, chicken broth, and water. Add rosemary. If the rosemary is dried, crumble it into the pot when adding.
7. Cover and cook on medium heat until it comes to a boil. Lower heat, vent the cover so steam can get out, and simmer for about an hour, stirring periodically.
**”Gumbo” crabs are slightly smaller crabs that come “cleaned” (no eyes, no messy innards). If you can’t find these, you can use fresh crabs, too. Of course, you can also use crab meat or crab claws.