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It’s all in the “Roux”

Updated on November 8, 2014

A good Gumbo is food for the soul; everyone loves a well-prepared Gumbo Soup. There is, however, a technique to making a good Gumbo, it's all in the roux! Getting the roux just right is very important. Perfecting the roux takes skill, the proper amount of heat as well as timing. The roux enhances the taste of the gumbo, if the roux is not just right, your gumbo will not have that smooth texture and rice flavor.

Roux Ingredients

The roux is flour browned in oil or some other fat. Many cooks use only a brown roux as a thickener. Often roux-based gumbos incorporate file´ in their mixture. I personally prefer using only file´ sautéed in olive oil, it really brings out the taste of the gumbo. The color of the roux varies from brown to dark chocolate.

Three Categories of Gumbo

For the most part, gumbos fall into one of three categories: Seafood Gumbo, containing some combination of oysters, shrimp, crawfish and crab: Poultry and Sausage Gumbo, which uses chicken or turkey and smoked sausage; Gumbo Z’ Herbs, a meatless soup with a wide variety of greens.

Okra and or tomato may or may not be used when preparing Gumbo; it is the cooks' choice. What makes gumbo so unique is the dish is very forgiving of the cook.

Measurements do not have to be exact, ingredients, may be changed to use what in on hand, scraps of meat or fowl, oyster, crab and shrimp. Gumbo is generally served with rice, it can also be served with many different side dishes such as, salad, black eye peas, swiss chard, and corn bread.

Gumbo is the culinary legacy of the African/American community. Although the French contributed the concept of the roux and the Choctaw invented file´ powder (dried, ground sassafras leaves), the modern soup is overwhelmingly West African in character. Thank you, West African for such a delicious soup!



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    • Claudia Marie profile image

      Claudia Marie 6 years ago

      Great! Just as you said you got to get the roux right, for the gumbo to be right! I like to put chicken, sausage, snow crabs and shrimp in my gumbo, the taste is just wonderful! Thanks for your comment!

    • ThePracticalMommy profile image

      Marissa 6 years ago from United States

      I just made a chicken and sausage gumbo tonight, and I was surprised how simple this roux was to make! It did take a while for it to be just right, but it was worth the wait!