Shrimp Gumbo

Shrimp Gumbo and Rice

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This recipe requires a bit of elbow grease – one full hour of continuous stirring to be exact – but it’s great biceps exercise! And it tastes wonderful, so that alone makes it all worth it. Here’s how it works: you make a roux from peanut oil and flour in a Dutch oven. You stir and stir and stir and watch the roux go from beige and smooth to oatmeal color and clumpiness, then through a chunky peanut butter look, a smooth peanut butter look and then a chocolate look.

When you’ve arrived at a good, deep chocolate color, you pat yourself on the back and take a quick nap. Then you saute some vegetables, add some broth, some spices and the roux, simmer a little and finish with shrimp. That’s it! See, it’s not so bad. And it does taste really delicious, so I say go ahead and try it!

Update: Since posting this recipe I’ve found a much better (and safer) method of making a roux and I have amended the recipe accordingly. Instead of stirring, you can make the roux entirely in the oven, it works like a charm, requires much less work and significantly reduces the risk of burning yourself.


Shrimp Gumbo Recipe

serves 6


  • 1/2 cup peanut oil
  • 1 cup + 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 celery ribs, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried French thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons Hungarian paprika*
  • ~ 40 medium-sized raw shrimp
  • 3 green onions, sliced



  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Whisk peanut oil and flour in a Dutch oven until smooth.
  3. Put the Dutch oven in the actual oven and let the roux bake in the uncovered pot until it has a chocolate color (1½ – 2 hours). Whisk the roux every 40 minutes during that process.
  4. Let the roux cool down to almost room temperature.
  5. Transfer the roux into a bowl and set aside.
  6. Heat the canola oil in the Dutch oven until shimmering.
  7. Add the onion, bell pepper and celery and saute on medium heat until they start to soften (about 8 minutes.)
  8. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant (about 1 minute).
  9. Add the chicken broth, then stir in the roux and let the mix come to a boil, stirring continuously.
  10. Add the bay leaves, thyme, oregano and Hungarian paprika, put on the lid and simmer on low heat for 20 minutes.
  11. Add the shrimp and cook for a few minutes until pink and opaque.
  12. Serve with rice and sprinkle on some green onions.



*I used Penzey’s Hungarian style half-sharp paprika.


Food Photography and Styling: Right away I liked the beautiful sheen on this gumbo, it looked very elegant so I placed the dish in an elegant set. I used a nice fabric that looked like a tablecloth you might find on a restaurant table. I ironed the cocktail napkin (it’s the one from Crate &Barrel) to create a distinct crease which, to my mind, added to the elegant look and also created some movement and made the whole photo feel much less rigid. I chose a glass with a very short stem rather than a traditional wineglass whose tall stem would have looked out of proportion. (It’s a glass from Crate & Barrel, the same one I used in the hazelnut pumpkin spice trifle photo). The background is a wood surface (it’s an antique shutter) and I chose it because I liked its texture as a background in this photo and its color was a good fit for the fabric.

Nikon D600, 105mm, f/5.6, 1/125 sec., ISO 100. One Hensel Integra Pro Plus 500 Monolight, 35″ x 58″ Softbox.


  1. Cheryl says:

    I love the elegance of this shot – especially that crease in the napkin. It’s those little touches that make your shots so gorgeous. Also… I would kill for a bowl of this right now. UGH!

  2. Maggie says:

    Great photo! I think brownish dish is one of the most difficult subject to shoot, but you managed it so well! Love the texture of those simple tablecloth.
    The shrimp gumbo looks so delicious. It’s something I’d like to made in a chilling autumn day :)

    • Nicole B. says:

      Thank you so much, Maggie! Many photographers say that they find brown food hard to shoot but I actually like brown a lot. I do have trouble with green. :)

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