The delicious combinations make the Shrimp Okra Gumbo Recipe unique. This classic Cajun gumbo is thickened by using smothered okra instead of the traditional dark roux of flour and oil. It's a healthier version and can be served as a main dish, a side, or as a most appetizing appetizer.
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Shrimp Okra Gumbo is another one of those signature gumbo recipes made famous by the Cajun people. It's so good I can eat it thrice daily. Being our family's favorite seafood gumbo, it was a frequent request for our mama to make.
She often kept Smothered Okra For Gumbo and frozen shrimp harvested from the area in her freezer. I remember those summer days when she'd take fresh okra, chop it, and cook it down, smothering it with other veggies. Then she'd spoon it into ziplock bags to freeze in anticipation of a pot of shrimp okra gumbo anytime she pleased.
Two Kinds Of Shrimp In South Louisiana
Louisiana is plentiful with seafood in the Gulf coastal waters. Shrimp season happens in spring and fall in Louisiana. Fishermen can fill the high demand for this delicious seafood twice a year. Besides keeping restaurants and grocery stores in stock, they make a lot of people happy by being able to fill their freezers with the season's harvest.
NOTE THIS: Fresh shrimp are preserved well by being easily frozen in water with or without their heads and shells.
Two kinds of shrimp are found in Louisiana waters: white and brown.
The white shrimp (pictured above) have great flavor, are larger, sweeter, more tender, and easier to peel. They come from brackish water, a mixture of salt and freshwater from the lakes, bays, and bayous.
Brown shrimp, however, are more plentiful, have a slightly firmer shell, are brown in color, and have a more robust flavor. That's because of the iodine-rich diet they get from salt water in the Gulf.
I talk a lot about smothered okra in this recipe, which is the foundation of this gumbo. But shrimp is its crowning glory.
Ingredients For Smothered Okra
- Canola oil - or any kind of vegetable oil to cook the okra and other vegetables
- Fresh okra - sliced or cut frozen okra
- Onion - white or yellow, chopped
- Celery - freshly chopped
- Green bell pepper - the last of the Cajun holy trinity
- Tomatoes - fresh or canned; not usually found in a Cajun gumbo like in a New Orleans Creole gumbo, but it's hidden in the smothering
- Garlic - fresh pods of garlic cloves, pressed
- Salt - table or sea salt to accent all of the flavors
- Red cayenne pepper - from spicy ground red peppers, a necessity in Cajun cooking
Ingredients For Gumbo
- Smothered okra - okra cooked with vegetables
- Shrimp - fresh, peeled, and deveined
- Chicken broth - fresh or canned from the grocery store
- Water - tap or filtered
- Kitchen Bouquet - or any bottled browning agent for gravies and sauces, adds more brown color to the good gumbo
- Green onions and/or fresh parsley - for garnishing the gumbo before serving
Specific ingredient amounts are in the recipe card below.
Instructions For Smothered Okra
Okra can be prepared by frying, boiling, pickling, and smothering like an okra stew. That's what we like to do here in the South. I eat it in any form, even raw, and smothering it is an excellent way to use up an abundant crop.
You can also serve smothered okra as a delicious vegetable side dish. It's not just for gumbo!
The slimy texture of okra can ruin a gumbo. So, the first step is to cook it for about an hour until the slime is gone. Adding the Cajun holy trinity of onions, celery, and green pepper, with a bit of garlic, brings an incredible depth of flavor to the pot.
A good idea is to make a batch of this Creole Seasoning Blend Recipe to use in place of the trinity and garlic. You only need about a cup for this gumbo recipe. The blend can easily be made ahead of time to store in the refrigerator or freezer when needed for other dishes, too.
Cooking the vegetables together until they caramelize into a golden brown color is how they get smothered. You want them browned and softened, so this takes a while. Keep stirring so they don't stick to the bottom of the pot.
Season with salt and red cayenne pepper for the finish.
This may be done days ahead and refrigerated or frozen until it's time to cook the gumbo.
Using smothered okra makes this dish gluten-free. That's good for wheat-sensitive diets.
Instructions For Gumbo
Add the shrimp to the smothered okra in a large pot like a stock pot or Dutch oven and cook on medium heat.
Tip: If preparing the okra right before the gumbo, peeling and deveining the shrimp while the okra cooks will help speed things along.
After the shrimp are cooked, the chicken broth and water are poured in and simmered to marry the flavors. Then, season to taste with more salt and red cayenne pepper or your favorite Cajun seasoning blend.
When the gumbo is cooked, you may find your Shrimp Okra Gumbo isn't dark enough to your liking. You can fix this by adding a little Kitchen Bouquet browning agent. Not too much, though, just a little at a time, then taste test it. Too much of it, and you'll alter the gumbo flavor.
Oh, and don't forget to add a bottle of hot sauce to the table setting for those who want more heat!
This gumbo is easily transitioned into a Chicken Gumbo With Okra. You can substitute the shrimp with bone-in chicken thighs with or without sausage, like andouille sausage or smoked sausage, for another tasty gumbo option. It's delicious!
You can also add crab meat or chicken and even sausage with the shrimp in this Shrimp Okra Gumbo. The combination and variations are endless!.
You can also purchase peeled shrimp. Now, that's a beautiful timesaver! If peeled shrimp and the okra are ready in the freezer, you can have Shrimp Okra Gumbo on the table in half an hour.
Not really, but you can always use a roux instead of the smothered okra to make a traditional shrimp gumbo.
When smothering the okra, it is ok to use frozen okra instead of fresh. It cooks well with the vegetables, cooking down until it is caramelized.
Raw okra is quite tasty. It has several nutritious benefits, too. The younger the okra, the more tender and less fibrous they are to munch on.
More Gumbo Recipes
Pairs Well With These RecipesPrint
- 1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
- 4 cups fresh or frozen sliced okra, or 16 ounces
- .5 cup chopped onion
- .25 cup chopped celery
- .25 cup chopped bell pepper
- 1 cup chopped fresh or canned tomatoes
- 2 garlic pods, pressed
- .5 teaspoon salt
- .25 teaspoons of red cayenne pepper
- 2 cus smothered okra from the above recipe
- 2 pounds fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 4 cups or 32 ounces of chicken broth
- 1 cup of water
- Kitchen Bouquet, optional
- Fresh green onion and/or parsley to garnish, chopped
- Place a heavy pot on a burner and heat the oil.
- Add okra to the pot and cook on medium/low heat, occasionally stirring, being careful not to burn the okra.
- Cook until the okra is browned and no longer slimy, which takes about a half hour to an hour; add a small amount of water if the okra sticks to the pot.
- Add onions, bell peppers, celery, and tomatoes, and cook for 20 minutes or more until the vegetables are soft and browned some more; again, add a small amount of water if vegetables begin to stick to the pot.
- Stir in the garlic and let simmer for a few more minutes.
- Season with salt and red cayenne pepper.
- Stir shrimp into smothered okra and simmer, stirring often, for 5 minutes on medium-low heat until the shrimp is cooked.
- Add chicken broth and water and simmer on low heat for 20 minutes.
- Pour small amounts of water if needed to adjust the thickness of the gumbo.
- Taste to adjust seasoning and add kitchen bouquet as a browning agent if gumbo is not brown enough.
- Serve hot gumbo in a bowl ladled over cooked rice.
- The more okra you are cooking with, the more cooking time it takes to eliminate the slime.
- Smother the okra ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator or freezer to save prep time for gumbo.
- Before adding them to the okra, pass your hand through the shrimp to ensure they are free of shells and black veins.
- Be sure to use a small amount of kitchen bouquet; it only takes a dab to brown, and you don't want to use too much, or it will alter the gumbo flavor.
- Season gumbo with Cajun seasoning at the end of the cooking time.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
- Category: Main Dish
- Method: Simmer
- Cuisine: Cajun
Keywords: shrimp okra gumbo, okra gumbo, shrimp gumbo, smothered okra, smothered okra for gumbo.
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All great change in America begins at the dinner table.Ronald Reagan