Sunday, July 29, 2018

gumbo redux

Here's a shot of reconstituted gumbo:

What's different this time around? Well, this particular batch of gumbo was left over from when I served gumbo at the office much earlier this month. All that was left, from the original service, was about two liters of broth that contained a few proteins and bits of vegetable—some chunks of chicken, some homemade andouille, some shrimp, and some fragments of green bell pepper. The broth had been frozen for the past few weeks. Tonight, I added the John Cook andouille I had hunted down a few days ago (I somehow failed to blog about my John Cook adventure, it seems; I'll get on that soon), a fresh pile of frozen chicken breast, and a fresh bag of jumbo shrimp.* Also different this time around: I added the gumbo filé powder that I didn't have last time (ordered via GMarket**).

Result: wow, what a difference! This gumbo isn't just good—it's fuckin' good. Real andouille, a heaping tablespoon of filé powder, and the subtle influence of the passage of time all conspired to produce some truly incredible gumbo. Call me a believer: from now on, I'll be using filé in future gumbos.

This isn't to say that the pre-filé'd gumbo was bad: it smelled amazing as the frozen broth melted and then boiled. It smelled so good, in fact, that I was almost convinced that adding the filé powder would ruin the Gestalt. I needn't have worried: nothing was ruined. To the contrary, flavors were enhanced, and per everything I had read, the filé powder did its job and thickened the broth a bit.

What I now have is an amazing batch of gumbo that no longer has any veggie content: no large quantities of the Holy Trinity (celery, onion, green pepper), no okra, nothing. But the echoes of those vegetables are still reverberating throughout the stew, and the final product really is something else. I'm going to enjoy downing this, with rice, over the next few days. Fuck, yeah.

*I never understood why some people think the term "jumbo shrimp" is an oxymoron (and, further, that it's somehow witty to point this out). "Shrimp" is the name of the animal, not a description of its size, even though it's true that the Old English scrimman, from which the modern word is derived, does mean "to shrink." Also true: the word "shrimp" can be used as a noun to describe a puny person, but keep in mind that the noun, in this case, represents a human being, not a crustacean. Besides, not all shrimp are tiny.

**GMarket carries a surprising range of hard-to-find goods for Westerners who are jonesing for Western food and other products. It often carries items that I can't find on, the popular-among-expats delivery service from which foreigners tend to buy non-Korean spices, seasonings, and esoteric foods, among other things.

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