Friday, April 10, 2020

The Kitchen Elves' Senegalese-Style Gumbo #EattheWorld

It's hard to believe that it's almost the middle of April...and we, at least here in California, have been on shelter-in-place orders for almost a month. Nothing like time on my hands - thank you, shelter-in-place orders! - to get me going back through my drafts folder to update and publish posts! Thankfully one of those posts fit perfectly with this month's #EattheWorld challenge. I love when that happens. You'll just have to ignore the fact that the kids are about 4 or 5  years younger in these photos.

Welcome to our April #EattheWorld project, being spearheaded by Evelyne of CulturEatz. Here's her challenge. This month she said, "This month our destination is Senegal, a nation with a rich history of traditional African culture and French influence."

Before we get to my recipe, here are the others' Senegal recipes

The Kitchen Elves' Senegalese-Style Gumbo
So, several years ago, we had friends with us for the day and all the kids wanted to cook dinner. My Enthusiastic Kitchen Elf suggested Chef Sean Brock's gumbo, so he pulled up the episode from Mind of a Chef.*  The kids sat there, watched the episode, and jotted down notes. This was the shopping list/recipe that I was handed at the end of the episode...

This is a Senegalese-style gumbo that uses red palm oil, dried fish, and whole eggplants. We went to the farmer's market and bought okra and eggplant.

We went to the Asian market and picked up whole fish, fresh shrimp, dried fish, and whole squid.

We went to Whole Foods to pick up clams and red palm oil.

Then we came home and they chopped, sauteed, simmered, and created a delicious pot of gumbo. I was rather impressed with their skills. 

I loved that they jumped right in to cleaning the squid and my Enthusiastic Kitchen Elf declared, "I know how to clean a whole fish. I'll show you!" Go, D!! I almost wish I could have recorded some of their conversations...

"Move, please. I need to put the fish head in the pot."

I'll stir. [two seconds later] NO! You stir. 


The fish is looking at me! I can see its eyeball.

"It's okay. The eyeball is yummy."

slightly adapted from Chef Sean Brock's Senegalese-Style Gumbo

  • 1 two-pound fish, cleaned, filleted, and coarsely chopped with the head and bones reserved 
  • 2 C okra, thinly sliced and smashed in a mortar and pestle
  • 4 C chicken stock
  • 4 C water
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 6 to 8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 3 cured, dried fish
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 small eggplants
  • 3 hot chili peppers
  • 3 T fish sauce
  • 2 pounds shrimp
  • 1 pound squid, cleaned and sliced into rings
  • 1 pound clams, scrubbed
  • 1/2 C red palm oil 
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • Steamed rice, for serving (we used a short grain brown rice)


In a large pot, saute the onion, garlic, and bell pepper until softened. Add in the fish head, bones, dried fish, stock, water, and chili peppers. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove the fish head, bones, chili peppers, and dried fish (if you wish) from the pot.

Add the smashed okra, bay leaves, eggplants, and fish sauce. Bring to it back up to a simmer and cook for approximately 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. You should be able to pierce the eggplant with a fork easily. Add the fish pieces, shrimp, squid, and palm oil. Simmer for a minute. Add in the clams and simmer until they open, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with rice.

Chef Sean Brock has been one of D's culinary heroes for years. So, when he had a book stop here late last year, we bought tickets and headed up to Santa Cruz for the evening. It was pretty exciting to meet him in person. Yes, it was a school night. Yes, we got home really late. But, really, how many chances like this do you get?? You can read that post, if you like: Defining Cuisine, Getting Inspired, and Shaking Hands with Chef Sean Brock.

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  1. Sounds like a lusciously rich combination of ingredients - I can imagine how flavourful it must be. Loved seeing your family shopping pictures, too!

  2. This looks SO wonderful! What a fun adventure to share with the kids - tracking down all the ingredients and cooking together!!

  3. I love the story you shared and all the pictures of everyone pitching in! That makes the final meal all that much better in my opinion.

  4. How much fun for you to be reminded of these great memories and how much fun for us that you shared them.