What’s really in Gumbo?
Here’s the simplest answer as to what’s really in okra: it contains some form of meat or seafood, okra, ground sassafras leaves, roux, and the vegetable trio of Holy Trinity, according to Kitchn. Many home kitchens have hosted arguments over what makes the perfect okra, but the Cajun style unmistakably starts with making a thick brown roux with a rich sauce-like consistency. In an interview with Cleveland Magazine, Chef Johnny Schulze of Bourbon Street Barrel Room recommends making Cajun rue with fat and flour combined with a small amount of broth, then grilling it in a skillet until tender. achieve that chocolate brown hue.
Andouille sausage is a standout in most Cajun gumbo, imparting a smoky flavor with a kick of cayenne pepper. It is often mixed with shrimp and sometimes chicken. Schulze reminds home chefs that other than the Holy Trinity, okra is one of the only other vegetables in Cajun-style okra and is a crucial part of the final dish. After all, the word “okra” is sometimes used interchangeably with “gumbo” in some African languages, according to the South Carolina Encyclopedia. Along with okra lime, which is a seasoning made from dried, powdered sassafras leaves, is used to thicken okra (via MyRecipes).
Finally, the Holy Trinity calls the rest of the shots. Leave out the holy trio of onions, celery, and bell pepper and you do so at your own risk (or at least your okra dish’s peril).