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Backstreet Cafe Seafood Gumbo

1 1/2 C. vegetable oil, divided
2 1/2 C. sliced okra
1 1/2 to 2 C. all-purpose flour
2 C. chopped onion
1 C. each, chopped: green bell pepper and celery
1 1/2 T. pressed garlic (about 3 cloves)
2 quarts seafood or fish stock (see note)
1 or 2 bay leaves
1 t. salt
1/2 t. each, ground: white, black and cayenne peppers
3/4 t. ground thyme
1/2 t. ground oregano
1 lb.(36- to 42-count) shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 1/4 lbs. fish such as pollock or cod, cut into small chunks

Heat 1 to 2 tablespoons oil in large skillet over medium-high heat; add okra and sauté 1 to 2 minutes to prevent stringiness. Remove okra with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Add remaining oil to skillet and heat until it is just at the smoking point; gradually add flour, whisking constantly to avoid burning, and cook until mixture turns dark brown to make a roux. The darker the roux, the richer the taste, but do not let it burn. Add onion, bell pepper and celery, a little at a time, and continue stirring while mixture cooks. Stir in garlic. Remove from heat.

Bring stock to a boil in a large kettle. Stir roux into seafood stock, a little at a time, stirring constantly. Add okra, bay leaves, salt, peppers, thyme and oregano. Simmer until okra is tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Add shrimp and fish. Cook 2 minutes or until shrimp is pink and fish is firm.

Makes about 1 gallon.

Note: To make seafood stock, combine shrimp shells and 2 quarts water in a large kettle and simmer 30 to 45 minutes over medium heat. Strain shells; reserve stock.

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