Gumbo Ya-Ya

Gumbo Ya-Ya:

How do you stay strong and motivated?  A good pot of food for your soul like Gumbo Ya-Ya.  I always make a big pot of Gumbo in the new year to get me going.  All the yummy spices and seafood remind me why I love to cook so much.  It’s starts with the “roux” as the foundation and you build it up with all the ingredients.  Maybe the reason why I like to make Gumbo at the beginning of the year is it reminds me of building something new, just like the beginning of a new year.  You start with a strong foundation and begin to build what you think you need to improve on.  Like Gumbo, it all starts with a good foundation!

Ali in the Valley

Picture by: Ali

Recipe for Gumbo Ya-Ya:


Gumbo Ya-Ya



  1. 1 1/2 cups Medium Dark Roux (see "How To Roux," recipe follows)

  2. 2 cups diced onions

  3. 1 cup diced celery

  4. 1 cup diced green bell pepper

  5. 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic

  6. 2 quarts shrimp (crab or chicken stock)

  7. 1 pound andouille sausage (sliced into 1/4-inch thick rounds, browned in a skillet, and drained on paper towels)

  8. 2 bay leaves

  9. 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

  10. Dash hot sauce

  11. 1/4 teaspoon cayenne

  12. 1 1/2 teaspoons salt

  13. 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  14. 2 pounds medium shrimp (peeled and deveined)

  15. 1 teaspoon Essence (recipe follows)

  16. 1/2 pound crab legs

  17. 12 fresh oysters and juices from jar (2 (optional))

  18. 1/3 cup green onion tops (chopped)

  19. 1/2 cup coarsely chopped parsley leaves

  20. 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves

  21. 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves

  22. 1/2 cup file powder (or to taste)

  23. Steamed white rice (for serving)

  24. How to Roux:

  25. Ingredients:

  26. 3 cups vegetable oil

  27. 5 cups all-purpose flour

  28. ESSENCE Creole Seasoning:

  29. Ingredients:

  30. 2 1/2 tablespoons paprika

  31. 2 tablespoons salt

  32. 2 tablespoons garlic powder

  33. 1 tablespoon black pepper

  34. 1 tablespoon onion powder

  35. 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper

  36. 1 tablespoon dried oregano

  37. 1 tablespoon dried thyme

  38. Shrimp Stock:

  39. Ingredients:

  40. All shrimp and lobster shells

  41. 1 bay leaf

  42. Zatarain’s Crawfish and Shrimp Crab Boil

  43. 1 lemon cut in quarters

  44. Salt

  45. Water to cover all ingredients


  1. Directions:

  2. Heat the roux in a medium-sized heavy stockpot over medium-high heat. When hot, add the onions, celery and bell pepper. Stir mixture until onions begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to cook for 1 minute. Slowly pour in stock, whisking constantly to prevent lumps from forming. Add the browned sausage, bay leaves, Worcestershire, hot sauce, cayenne, salt, and pepper.

  3. Bring gumbo to a boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer until gumbo is slightly reduced, about 50 minutes. (Gumbo should cook long enough for the roux flavor to mellow and for any floury taste to dissipate.)

  4. Season the shrimp with the Essence in a small bowl. Stir in the seasoned shrimp, crab legs, oysters, green onions, parsley, thyme and basil. Cook until shrimp are cooked through, about 5 to 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary. Sprinkle in file powder and cook, stirring, 2 minutes more, or pass file at the table for guests to thicken as desired. Remove bay leaves before serving.

  5. Serve in warmed soup bowls over steamed white rice.

  6. How to Roux:

  7. Ingredients:

  8. cups vegetable oil

  9. cups all-purpose flour

  10. Directions:

  11. Place a heavy, iron Dutch oven, (or iron skillet with deep sides) over medium heat and heat the oil until just smoking. Whisk in flour, a little at a time and cook, whisking constantly, until roux becomes smooth and thick. Continue to cook, constantly stirring with a wooden spoon and reaching all over bottom of pan, until roux darkens to desired color. Be careful not to produce specs of black. The roux must remain an even color throughout process. If specs appear you must start over. For a Light Brown Roux, cook the mixture, over medium heat for 1 1/2 hours, or until the color of peanut butter. For a Medium Brown Roux, cook the mixture, over medium heat for an additional 30 minutes, or until the color of a copper penny when ready.

  12. ESSENCE Creole Seasoning:

  13. Ingredients:

  14. /2 tablespoons paprika

  15. tablespoons salt

  16. tablespoons garlic powder

  17. tablespoon black pepper

  18. tablespoon onion powder

  19. tablespoon cayenne pepper

  20. tablespoon dried oregano

  21. tablespoon dried thyme

  22. Directions:

  23. Combine all ingredients thoroughly. (Keep left over for future use)

  24. Shrimp Stock:

  25. Ingredients:

  26. All shrimp and lobster shells

  27. bay leaf

  28. Zatarain’s Crawfish and Shrimp Crab Boil

  29. lemon cut in quarters

  30. Salt

  31. Water to cover all ingredients

  32. Directions:

  33. Combine all shells and the above ingredients in stockpot add 4 quarts water, and bring to a boil over high heat. Skim to remove any foam that rises to the surface. Reduce to heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for 30 to 45 minutes. Remove stock from heat and strain. Use only the liquid in the Gumbo. Discard shells!

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