Brer Fox Seafood and Smoked Sausage Gumbo

2:32 am on 15 December 2007

(For 4 big mains or 8 entrée size servings)


For the Roux

(double or triple recipe for big batches or to save for another day as it keeps well refrigerated)

  • 200ml soybean oil
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 cups fine diced onion
  • 1 and 3/4 cups of diced celery (referred to as The 3 sisters or the Holy Trinity)
  • 1 and ¼ cup diced peppers


Mix the vegetables and use half for the roux and half for the soup base.


Simmer roasted crayfish heads, fish frames, prawn tails and any trimmings from your daily catch, chopped clean vegetables such as onions, celery and carrots cover in 3 litres of water till reduces, and flavoursome. Strain and set aside. (Or for a chicken Gumbo use roasted chicken bones and vegetables for a rich stock)

Soup Base

  • 2 large cloves garlic minced
  • Half the 3 sisters already diced
  • 1 400g tin of whole peeled tomatoes in juice
  • 1 Tbl tomato puree

Spice mix

  • ¾ of a tsp cayenne pepper
  • ¾ of a tsp black pepper
  • ¾ of a tsp white pepper
  • 1 tsp dried thyme or 1Tbl fresh thyme
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 bay leaves


Dice all the vegetables, combine the spices and have the stock strained and ready for use.

For the Roux;

You are about to work with very hot oil so need to be very careful and prepared. Get a good thick tea towel to hold the pot handle with and have someone watch the kids and take the ph off the hook. Clean a heavy based pot and carefully wipe it out ensuring its free of water and any particles.Grab a long handled whisk ensuring it too is clean and dry. Have the vegetables (3 sisters) handy.

Place the pot on the stove, get it hot then add the oil.

When the oil is starting to smoke, carefully add the flour while beginning to whisk it into the oil.

You don`t want to have the flour settle and burn or your gumbo will be ruined.

The roux will be quite runny.

Once you have all the flour whisked in keep working the roux until it turns a rich dark red brown colour.

Then while continuing to stir the roux, tip in half the 3 sisters and incorporate. Note watch out for the steam coming off the vegetables. Adding the veg will stop the roux from cooking. Stir again, and take off the heat, set aside and smell the wonderful rich aroma!

Soup Base

In a large pot, sauté the remaining vegetables and garlic and the spice mix. When the vegetables are soft add the stock, tom puree and crushed tomatoes. When the liquid is starting to roll begin whisking in the roux a spoonful at a time. NB before using the roux, tip off any oil that's risen to the surface and if its cold do warm it a little in the microwave to make its incorporation into the stock easier. Simmer this soup base for 2 or three hours or when the robust flavour of the roux intergrates with the rich seafood stock and warming spices.

Skim all the oil that comes to the surface.

Adjust seasoning by adding more spice mix or salt, adjust soup consistency by reducing or adding more stock or water. Note adding wet seafood will thin the soup a little too.

Seafood and Sausage garnish

Choose from, or use all or whatever the kai moana gatherers can get. I prefer all the fish boneless and shelled as it speeds up consumption! But if you like getting messy leave it all on. Good quality polish or other smoked sausage ( sliced) that's best if it is roasted or browned slightly in a skillet. Smoke flavour is great in the Gumbo.

Bite size pieces of fish fillet



Slices of squid

Chops of crayfish tail

Fresh mussels (scrub, wash and steam separately. . Add the meat and juice to the soup.)

Oysters including their juices.

Warm, cooked long grain rice (Uncle Bens parboil is great)

Thin slices spring onions and fine chopped parsley. (Adds freshness and a little texture)

To finish

Get the soup base nice and hot then add your garnish progressively , just prior to serving, so it is just cooked.

Add sausage and bigger pieces first and the likes of the raw oysters at the very last so they just plump up.

Either plate in the kitchen or set out on a table for guests to help themselves.

In a nice warm soup or pasta bowl spoon in ¼ cup of the warm rice, ladle over a generous quantity of the Gumbo ensuring there is a good mix of all the different garnishes and sprinkle with the spring onions and parley.

Serve with crusty French bread and butter.

Potato salad on the side is traditional and for the healthy, a green salad.

Match with a full bodied off dry Gewurztraminer.

If you deserve a treat, try Vinoptima from Gisborne, a producer who specialises in Gewurtz.

Its richness, complexity and fruit sweetness is a great foil for the spicy robust Gumbo.

Gumbo is a great dish for serving big groups. Feel free to factor up the recipe but do be careful not to add all the spice mix at once. Maybe 2/3 then finish seasoning as the soup cooks out so you don`t over do it.

From Afternoons with Jesse Mulligan

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