• Chef Dylan

CHORIZO AND PRAWN GUMBO



This slightly spicy, hearty dish, with plump ocean prawns and smokey chorizo, is surprisingly simple to make and will have everyone at the table saying ‘mmmmmm, yum’ whilst slurping it up in large spoonfuls.

This popular South Louisiana dish is wonderfully warming and rich but will leave you feeling light and heartily refreshed. I'd say there's no need to go to the effort of making chicken stock for this recipe, as these days, a high-quality store-bought variety is a perfectly good substitute, or if needs be, you can even use a couple of chicken stock cubes.


Did you know? Gumbo is a thick dark stew or soup said to have derived from the word ‘ki ngombo’, which translates to ‘okra’ in many West African languages. The earliest recorded recipes for the dish include okra as the main ingredient, as okra and rice stews were common food staples of the early settlers to Louisiana. Devotees of okra-based gumbo love that sticky mouthfeel, as it thickens the gumbo and gives the stew body. This iconic dish has had many contributions from Native American, French, Spanish, and Caribbean people and has led to a fusion of culinary creativity that has all landed in one massive pot. The dish we know and love today is a source of culinary pride in Louisiana and is enjoyed by everyone.


Chef Dylan tip: Do go to the effort of sourcing good quality prawns and chorizo, as doing so will make the dish a real stand out. Make sure to use risotto rice to give it the classic creamy mouthfeel of the okra. If you wanted to use normal rice, you could also thicken it with a classic roux of 30g butter and 30g flour.


Downtown, Los Angeles, 2018

“A cup of gumbo, please”, I request from the white-haired African American lady who is looking at me with gentle, deep, chestnut-coloured eyes. Without a word, she opens the lid of her cart and expertly ladles me a portion into a large Styrofoam cup and then places a plastic spoon on top of the cup, held in place with a small, delicate, time-ravaged finger. Whilst passing it to me, she says “T-ree dollars” with a thick Jamaican accent “Wud-ja like a lid?” she asks. ”No, thank you”, I reply, taking the cup and spoon with one hand whilst handing over three crisp one-dollar notes into her outstretched hand. She takes them warily, seemingly suspicious as to why they look so new and fresh. “I just got them from the foreign exchange", I stammer, somehow trying to convey genuinely that they are not counterfeit.


She quickly puts one to her nose and sniffs it; the scent seems to satisfy her, and she nods slightly, folds them over and places them in her jacket whilst simultaneously letting go of the cup. “Thank you”, I say and turn, relieved to be now looking for the Union Station exit... a grand old iconic Los Angeles landmark and a vibrant symbol of downtown’s renaissance architecture. It’s also a dynamic destination for the arts, entertainment and culture. Union Station seems way more than a hustling, bustling transportation hub in the heart of the city – it’s as if it’s a gateway to culture.


Suddenly seeing a group of police walking towards me, dressed exactly as you see in the movies, with their sharp blue suits and special hat, I quip, “Excuse me, officers, I’m looking for the nearest exit. Can you point me in the right direction?” Obviously heading somewhere in a hurry, they simply ignore me and walk straight past me. I’m left standing there, a little shocked and bemused, but with steam still rising from the cup, I decided to turn left and then miraculously see the exit sign. I pass by huge glass windows like that of a church, and above me lurch large, exposed crisscrossed wooden beams showcasing the exquisite craftsmanship of the original builders before finally strolling through the giant mosaic-tiled arched exit.


Upon exiting, I come upon beautiful gardens edged by towering Californian palm trees, slowly swaying in the foreground of a vast blue sky. I see the Californian flag blazed with a big brown bear, flapping in the gentle breeze. I spy some seating and instantly decide that here is the perfect place to enjoy one of my favourite pastimes, simply watching people go about their lives. I sit quietly, sipping my now perfectly warm gumbo, awed by the fact I’m really here in LA. I pinch myself, the pain reminding me: no, this is not some fantastical dream.


This really is a simple and delicious way to add a little culture to your weekend meals, so go on, give it a go.


PREP TIME: 10 mins

COOKING TIME: 15 mins

SERVINGS: 2-4


INGREDIENTS


  • 1 carrot, chopped into cubes

  • 1 red onion, chopped 2cm cubes

  • 4 garlic cloves, diced finely

  • 1 green capsicum, chopped into 2 cm cubes

  • Few sprigs of parsley, stalks and leaves separated

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 2 chorizo, halved & sliced 2cm cubes

  • 50g butter

  • 3 tablespoons CREOLE

  • 1L chicken stock/broth

  • 2 cups water

  • 2/3 cup risotto rice

  • 12 fresh banana prawns, peeled and deveined


METHOD

  1. Heat oil in a saucepan over high heat. Cook chorizo for 3 mins stirring.

  2. Turn heat to medium, add butter and veggies and gently fry for ~7 minutes.

  3. Add CREOLE and cook for 1 minute, stirring.

  4. Add stock and water. Cover with lid and bring to boil.

  5. Turn heat to low, add rice to the saucepan and stir to combine.

  6. Cover with a lid and simmer for 10 minutes until rice is almost tender, stirring occasionally.

  7. Add prawns. Cook for 3/4 minutes until just cooked.


TO SERVE


Garnish with chopped parsley then ladle gumbo into serving bowls.