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Charleston Seafood Gumbo


  • For the gumbo

  • 40g/1½oz bacon fat, lard or vegetable oil

  • 40g/1½oz plain flour

  • 75g/3oz rindless smoked streaky bacon, cut into strips

  • 1 onion, chopped

  • 1 large celery stick, sliced

  • 1 green pepper, seeded and chopped

  • 225g/8oz okra, thickly sliced

  • 450g/1lb plum tomatoes, roughly chopped

  • 1 green jalapeno chilli, thinly sliced

  • 1 large sprig of thyme

  • 2 bayleaves

  • 225g/8oz skinned boneless chicken, cut into 5cm/2in pieces

  • 20 small clams or mussels, cleaned

  • 110g/4oz fresh white crab meat

  • 2 spring onions, cut into 2.5cm/1in lengths

  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley

  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • For the Stock

  • 450g/1lb unpeeled large raw prawns

  • 4 large chicken wings

  • 1 carrot, sliced

  • 1 large onion, sliced

  • 1 celery stick, sliced

  • a handful of fresh herbs parsley, thyme and oregano

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 1.75 litre/3 pint water

  • To serve

  • long grain rice


  • 1.

    First make the stock peel the prawns but don't throw away the shells. Put the shells and the rest of the stock ingredients into a large pan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook for 1 hour to produce an aromatic, very well-flavoured stock. Strain through a colander into another large pan.

  • 2.

    For the gumbo, heat the fat in a large pan, add the flour and cook over a gentle heat, stirring continuously, until it has turned a golden biscuit brown. Add the bacon and continue to cook for 2 minutes. Gradually add the stock, stirring as you do. Now add the onion, celery and green pepper, plus the okra, tomatoes, jalapeno chilli, thyme and bay leaves. Leave everything to simmer for 25 minutes. The vegetables need to be very well cooked, almost blending into the now beautifully flavoured sauce. Add the chicken after 20 minutes and add the prawns, clams or mussels shortly after. Finally, stir in the crab meat, spring onions, parley, 1½ tsp of salt and some freshly ground black pepper.

  • 3.

    Serve ladled over some cooked long grain rice.

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