This novel, A Long Time Gone, by Karen White, takes place in the Mississippi Delta, my okra is getting harvested, and I was in the mood for Gumbo. Life working in concert. I'm calling it Hawaiian style because there is Ahi tuna in it, Kauai shrimp and vegetables from my Hawaiian garden. Most traditional gumbos won't have fish other than shrimp and crab, but as Bob is picky about shellfish generally, I have been adding in fresh ahi to various dishes that call for shellfish. So we're both meant to be happy. Theoretically.
I do believe this is the first book by Karen White I have read, and will certainly be reading more. She is an excellent storyteller. Her novel involves a family where it seems the women always leave their children behind at some point. They come back and often leave again. It concerns the emotional damage and the danger of relying on assumptions about the motives of others, frequently false assumptions, rather than giving the benefit of doubt, until we know better, also the need for forgiveness,and letting go of bitterness.
As the Publisher's blurb states: "When Vivien Walker left her home in the Mississippi Delta, she swore never to go back, as generations of the women in her family had. But in the spring, nine years to the day since she left, that's exactly what happens --- Vivien returns, fleeing from a broken marriage and her lost dreams for children."
White weaves together seamlessly the family relationships, and Delta history going back several generations, up to and including the recent broken tie with Vivien's step-daughter. Then there is the mystery of a woman's bones found under a lightening felled cypress in the back garden, as well as a new romance with an old love. Terrific reading.
simmering fumét for gumbo
So, we progress to my divine Dixie Gumbo, Hawaiian style. According to Wikipedia, Gumbo "likely derived its name from either a word from a Bantu language for okra (ki ngombo) or the Choctaw word for filé (kombo). I have a wee planting of both the purple and green varieties of okra, though they do not hold their purple color after cooking.
What I put together, and you can call it Hawaiian Gumbo or just Delicious Gumbo, whatever, I figure the basics you need for a pot of it are covered here.
Hawaiian Style GumboIngredients
for 2-3 servings
1/2 lb. okra
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 lb. andouille or other smoked sausage, sliced into 1/4 inch rounds - that would be traditional, or you can skip this and add some crisped up pepperoni slices as I did or bacon
1/2 cup peeled, chopped fresh or canned tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped onions
1/2 chopped green bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped celery
2 cloves minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teas. cayenne pepper, 1 teas. Cajun seasonings if you have, or file powder - I used Harissa
1 bay leaf
fresh herbs as available: parsley, thyme, oregano, basil
Prepping the fumétIngredients Con't.
2 cups shrimp stock or water (I made a fumét above, with a mirepoix (left), salmon bones, shrimp heads and shells)
1/2 lb. medium shrimp, peeled and deveined plus any other fish or crab you're using
1 teas.Creole seasoning, filé powder, Harissa, or preferred seasoning
Parsley, basil and or green onion tops, crispy bacon or pepperoni for garnish
white rice or grits to serve with
1. Peel and devein shrimp, make your shrimp stock, strain and set aside, or use a canned stock
2. Toss the shrimp with seasoning (I used Harissa), then set aside in fridge
Heat olive oil in a medium sized cooking pot over medium-high heat. Add the sausage, bacon or pepperoni and cook, stirring til fat is rendered and bacon or pepperoni crisp. Drain on paper towel if using bacon or pepperoni.
4. Add the okra and cook, stirring frequently for 5-10 minutes. Add tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, celery and garlic. Cook, stirring often for 10 minutes. Add seasonings and shrimp stock.
5. Stir the pot and bring contents to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Add the shrimp and any other fish you're using, cut into chunks, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.
6. Remove bay leaf, and garnish with fresh herbs, bacon and or pepperoni. Serve in shallow bowls over white rice or grits.
This is a splendid meal - and wonderful touch of the deep South. Oh yes Dixieland! You might want more or less heat. I skipped the cayenne actually, but would add it in next time, or just use a chopped jalapeno with the other veggies.
This post will be linked up with Beth Fish Reads for her Weekend Cooking event, as well as for Souper Sundays at Deb's Kahakai Kitchen. Be sure to visit and check out all the good books and recipes. Or link your own cooking related post on the weekend.