Gumbo: Creole or Cajun style?

  • Creole (tomato)
  • Cajun (tomat-NO)

0 voters

I always make my gumbo Creole-style and add a can of tomatoes, because I like tomatoes. But I just made a batch of gumbo and decided to leave out the tomatoes this time. And I have to say that the flavor of the browned roux came through better without the tomato. So I might be sold on Cajun style now. Sometimes less is lagniappe.

Creole-style is good for jambalaya, not so much for gumbo. And keep your slimy okra to yourself!

In a good okra gumbo (like mine), the okra is long dissolved and is undetectable.

I agree that the tomato eats into the roux and file flavors, so I don’t use tomatoes in mine. I also like to roast my okra so that it doesn’t dissolve and doesn’t get slimy.

I use roux, okra, and tomatoes. I don’t use file.

My okra usually dissolves in the gumbo, too, along with the Holy Trinity vegetables and tomatoes.

I’ve had brown, no-tomato gumbos all around NOLA and bayou country, and have always found them too damn thin. Tasty though.

The one time I tried making gumbo without tomatoes, it came out greenish and slimy and wasn’t very good. I’ll stick with the tomatoes, as they cut the flavor of the okra and add a bit of sweetness.

I used to live in Lafayette, so definitely Cajun style.

Y’know, I don’t think I’ve ever made a gumbo with okra. Not because I have anything against it, I just usually think hmmm…what to make for dinner tonight…gumbo! And I pretty much just use what I have, and always have the veggie trinity and most other main ingredients on hand, more or less. I don’t know if my local grocery store even carries fresh okra.

Does okra add anything special, flavor-wise? I know it thickens the gumbo somewhat.

It’s pretty mild, and in that “green” category of flavors, maybe in the direction of zucchini and eggplant to some extent. It’s hard to describe. Personally, I love the stuff (though my favorite preparation is in Indian dishes, like bindhi masala) but a lot of people have issues with its mucilaginous texture. Depending on how it’s prepared, it doesn’t have to be slimy, but I don’t mind it either way.

As for the OP, I do typically do gumbo with tomatoes and okra, but not always. When I do a roux-based or file-thickened gumbo, I omit tomatoes. Good recipes here:

Thanks Pulykamell, those recipes do look good!

Yep, so far as I can tell – and I know the word “authentic” is frought with argument – the site has what I would call authentic recipes, in that they seem to be curated by a person from the area who knows the local folk food culture, and they seem to be home recipes, church recipes, cookout contest recipes, that sort of thing. The website has been around for donkey’s years. I’m pretty sure I was using it when I first signed up on this board 20 years ago. (Looking at the internet archive, there’s snapshots of it going back to 1998, so it’s been around even longer than this board.)

It is the first place I go to online for Cajun and Creole cooking research/recipes (I also have several books on the shelf.)

Yeah, I felt like the recipes were going to be authentic because of the very basic, old-school look of the site; like going to a BBQ place that looks like a dive but has the best BBQ around :smile:

Shame about the dead link for Leah Chase’s Creole Gumbo though, that sounds really good :slightly_frowning_face:

I always have a bag of frozen okra on hand for when I can’t get fresh. The texture just isn’t “right” without okra.

I’m definitely going to add okra to my next batch of gumbo, fresh or frozen.

I use frozen okra.

There’s also “gumbo z’herbes” if you want to try something different.

I have a recipe for it in my New Orleans Restaurant Cookbook (1967) which consists of basically a dozen or so different kinds of greens, and some ham, onions, seasoning, no roux. Makes for a healthier alternative and I can make it vegan if I’m hosting a New Orleans-food themed dinner.

Oh, hey, gumbo pages has a recipe that is pretty darned similar to the cookbook I have, but with a roux:

My cookbook calls for both a pound of ham and a pound of veal, chopped, in it, but when I make it, I usually make it vegan.

I first became aware of a similar recipe (called ‘gombo aux herbes’) in a new-looking copy of the ‘Picayune Creole Cookbook’ I bought at a garage sale. I don’t think the spine had ever been cracked on it. I later learned that it’s kind of the bible of Creole cooking, and some editions are valuable, although not the particular one I found. I never tried making it yet, but I love greens of all kinds, and a gumbo that incorporates a bunch of different greens sounds delicious.

One odd thing about the Picayune Creole Cookbook I noticed was that several of the recipes called for adding shrimp early on and cooking them in the gumbo or soup for the entire time, not adding the shrimp towards the end. like we typically do these days. It seems like the shrimp would turn into inedible rubber or just completely dissolve, cooking it for so long. Was that just the way it was done back in the day, I wonder?

Born, raised and still live in New Orleans and I’ve never heard of tomatoes in gumbo. Now, there is a tomato based dish called creole but it’s not a gumbo.

This is true. I puree the okra so it becomes part of the base.

Well, I don’t know. If you google “Creole gumbo” you get a lot of hits, but maybe what you know as “Creole” is called “Creole gumbo” outside of New Orleans to avoid confusion?

And as to what ‘gumbo’ is, I thought it was just a loosely-based term for a variety of soup / stew style dishes that generally used a roux thickener and the veggie trinity, but otherwise was pretty much wide-open, ingredient-wise.

And the main distinction between “Creole” and “Cajun” cooking, I thought, was that Creole style generally used tomatoes while Cajun style did not.

But my understanding of NO cooking is far from comprehensive, if not outright wrong in places, and I’m certainly not going to argue NO cuisine terminology with someone born and raised there!