Gumbo is a dish traditionally served in the southern part of the state of Louisiana. This dish is actually cooked two ways. Creole gumbo has shellfish and tomatoes as basic ingredients while Cajun gumbo is cooked with rue as base thickener. If you prefer to cook gumbo with rue as base thickener, here are the steps:
- Prepare the needed ingredients and materials. You need to use a non-stick skillet or deep kettle, a large plastic or wooden spoon with long handle, flour and cooking oil. You can choose to use vegetable or canola oil. Avoid using butter as it might take away the natural flavors of the ingredients.
- Use an electric or gas stove when cooking the rue. Base rue needs some time to cook (slow cooking) hence an efficient stove is a must. For convenience, an electric or gas stove may be used. However if you prefer to be more traditional, you may use an earthen stove heated by coals or firewood.
- Place the skillet or kettle on the stove, making sure the heat is on medium setting. You may start the stove on high flame but as soon as the skillet has warmed up, turn it down to medium.
- Spoon out the oil and put it in the skillet. Do this gradually until the kettle is well covered with oil to at least quarter inch.
- Follow a one-to-one proportion for the oil and flour. As you place one spoonful of oil in the skillet, add a spoonful of flour as well. Stir the flour into the oil to blend well until the flour becomes smooth and thick.
- Wait for the flour to darken. When the base rue is darker, the gumbo is also darker, thicker and more flavorful. Hence the rue must be golden or dark brown before you add the other ingredients. Take care however not to burn the flour as it will result to a bitter taste.
- Keep stirring as you put in the flour. In order not to burn the base rue, you need to continually and briskly stir the mixture of flour and oil with the large plastic or wooden spoon. This can be a tedious and long process but you cannot ruin the base rue because the resulting flavor of your gumbo depends on how the base rue is cooked.
- Add a little water when necessary. If the flour mixture gets too thick that you fear the rue might burn, add a little water. However do not add anymore water when you have placed the last spoonful of flour in the kettle. Just stir very well until the whole mixture becomes dark and then place the other ingredients of the gumbo dish.
- Place the meat and vegetables immediately as soon as the rue is ready. You will know the base rue for your gumbo dish is cooked when the flour is dark and thick. Remember always that a delicious gumbo starts with rich rue.
Rue can also be stored in the freezer for later use. If there is more than enough rue for your gumbo, set aside some of it in the fridge. To ensure the flavor is preserved well, place it in a covered plastic container and keep in the freezer.