So I made the mistake of asking kid#1 what he wanted for dinner. Sunday dinner is the one day in the week that I cook for the family, and he knows this is the time I usually experiment with recipes. So kid#1’s request was opportunistic and he knew I wouldn’t hold back from the challenge of making a low carb version of gumbo. I do love gumbo myself although I haven’t had it in years. Oddly enough, the best gumbo I ever remember eating was in Kentucky. I remember that was after the longest birthday of my life (I travelled for about 30 hours from Singapore to Moscow, then Houston and finally Kentucky and it was still my birthday when I got there!). When I got to Kentucky I realized I was taken off guard by unseasonably cold weather. And I braved the cold to walk to a restaurant and the gumbo was such a wonder of warm, thick and flavorful comfort, that I have always had a soft spot for gumbo ever since.
Gumbo is a stew that originated in Louisiana and is notable for the roux that is the start of the dish. The tricky thing about roux is that flour is usually high carb, and I used some low carb flour to substitute. I’ve seen recipes using almond flour but I think the flavour and texture may not quite be the same. Secondly, roux cannot be added into the Instant Pot at the beginning of the cooking as it tends to burn. So for this recipe, I added the roux in later as a thickener. Gumbo usually takes several hours of simmering but using the Instant Pot makes this a quick fix for dinner.
The other thing I had to bend backwards for this recipe was looking for gumbo file powder. This is the dried and ground sassafras leaves which gives a distinctive earthy flavor and also helps to thicken up the gumbo. The file powder comes from the leaves but not the bark of the tree – apparently the bark contains safrole, which is carcinogenic. Surprisingly I managed to find it in Cold Storage, which is probably why I still go to this pricey supermarket occasionally. Which now brings my spice collection to 34 spices now…I think it’s time again to go clean up my spice drawer.
Anyway doing this gumbo recipe was fun. This stew is such a clash of influences – French, Cajun and Creole that I am somewhat reminded of our own melting pot of cultures in Singapore. Interestingly enough I don’t think we have the one dish to rule them all in Singapore – our iconic dishes like Hainanese Chicken Rice, Roti Prata and Mee Siam still represent individual Chinese, Indian and Malay cultures. Probably the closest would be Peranakan food, which is because of a blending of Malay and Chinese cultures from intermarriage over the past couple of centuries.
Anyway I passed the test. Kid#1 approved of the gumbo, and kid#2 who is completely spiciness-averse didn’t spit it out, screaming. Altogether a decent experience. 😁
Low Carb Chicken, Sausage and Shrimp Gumbo
- 5 smoked sausages, cut into 1 inch long pieces
- 3 boneless chicken thighs, cut into large chunks
- 500 g of peeled shrimp
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 green bell peppers, chopped
- 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 2 ribs of celery, chopped
- 5 okra (lady’s fingers)” sliced into small pieces
- 4 cups of chicken stock
- 1 can of diced tomatoes
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/4 tsp paprika
- 1/4 tsp dried oregano
- 1/4 tsp dried thyme
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/4 cup of olive oil for the roux
- 1/2 cup of low carb flour
- 1 tbsp gumbo file powder
Cauliflower fried “rice”
- 1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp chopped parsley
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Put the onion, bell pepper, garlic, and celery in a food processor and chope finely
- Turn the Instant Pot on in Sauté mode. Brown the chicken, then the sausage, and remove from the pot and set aside
- Sauté the vegetables for about 5 minutes till fragrant and slightly caramelized.
- Add the chicken and sausage back into the pot. Add the chicken stock and the can of diced tomatoes in their juice.
- Add the bay leaves, spices (paprika, cayenne pepper, dried thyme, dried oregano, garlic powder and crushed red pepper) and stir through.
- Turn off the sauté mode and close the pot. Put valve in sealed position. Pressure cook for 15 minutes. Use quick pressure release.
- Turn the pot back onto sauté mode. Add the okra into the gumbo.
- In the meantime, in a saucepan, heat up the 1/4 cup of oil and add the low carb flour. Stir continuously till the roux browns slightly. Add 2 ladles of liquid from the Instant Pot into the roux and keep stirring till thickened. Add the roux mixture back into the Instant Pot.
- Stir through and add the shrimps, gumbo file powder and parsley in. Cook for another 5 – 10 minutes and turn off the pot.
- For the cauliflower rice, use the food processor to chop the florets into small rice-like pellets.
- Heat up the olive oil in a large skillet.
- Sauté the onions till fragrant and translucent.
- Add the cauliflower and continue to sauté. Add the salt and pepper to taste. Add the parsley and stir through.
- To plate up the gumbo, put a large scoop of cauliflower rice at the center of a shallow bowl or soup plate. Spoon the gumbo around the cauliflower rice and serve hot.