Seafood gumbo, Cajun-style

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Seafood gumbo, Cajun-style

Anyone who has had the good fortune to be in Cajun country in Louisiana knows that the food is often spectacularly good. I've only spent too short a time there -- I have a chapter in Postcards From Elsewhere about the small town of Breaux Bridge, Louisiana -- but I did ask around for recipes.

On a napkin I had scribbled notes for a gumbo which, over time and experimentation, turned into this.

As with most such recipes it isn't just a matter of throwing everything together but takes a little time.

The roux is important so take your time and watch it carefully, it can, as they say, "git away on y'all" The reward is in the eating however.

This should serve four to six.

INGREDIENTS

2 onions

a fresh red red chilli

2 capsicums

2 sticks of celery

3 bay leaves

salt and pepper

cayenne pepper

dried thyme leaves

dried oregano

3/4 cup of vegetable oil

3/4 cup of flour

some crushed garlic

five cups of seafood stock

four chorizo sausage

at least a dozen shrimps or large prawns

a dozen oysters rice

METHOD

Combine bay leaves, two teaspoons of salt, the chopped capsicum, half a teaspoon of dried thyme, half teaspoon of cayenne pepper, half teaspoon of oregano, a fresh sliced and seeded red chilli.

In a separate dish place the chopped onions and celery. Bring to the boil the stock in a large saucepan (big enough to take all the ingredients) then let sit on a rolling boil while you make the roux.

To make the roux(the base): Heat oil in a deep, broad-based pan until it starts to smoke. Turn down slightly then gently add flour and whisk it through (you need to keep whisking otherwise it'll go gluggy). Keep whisking until the mixture goes red then almost black. Keep on the heat gently for a few minutes (don't let it burn) and then add half of the chopped onions and chopped celery.

Keep stirring until they are slightly soft then add the remainder and stir until done for another few minutes. Stir in the mix of bay leaves etc and stir for a few minutes then add a teaspoon of the crushed garlic, stir through then take off the heat.

Add to the stock and stir through well until it is of an even consistency. Bring the whole thing to a boil and add the chopped chorizo and let simmer for a while (10 minutes or so) then add all the seafood (the oyster juice as well).

And that's it, turn down and simmer, and stir ocassionally while you are making the rice. When rice is done place servings in deep bowls and put the gumbo in the centre of the table -- and stand well clear.

Depending on your touch it can be chilli hot -- so it goes well with light beers.

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