It’s all in the “Roux”
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.
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!
Reference: http://whatscookingamerica.net; http://www.southerngumbotrail.com