Proper Vegan Gumbo
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil 60 g
- 1/4 cup all purpose flour 30 g
- 1 yellow onion 200 g
- 1/2 bell pepper 70 g
- 1 rib celery 70 g
- 5 cloves garlic about 1/2 a head
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 can amber beer 170 g
- 1 tsp MSG *optional
- 1/2 tsp poultry seasoning *optional
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper see Notes
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 3 cups vegetable stock 700 g
- 1 recipe vegan okara "andouille sausage" seitan see Notes for recipe, or use any storebought sausage
- 2 stalks scallions
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt or to taste
- cooked rice or potato salad to serve
- Prep veggies: dice up the onion, bell pepper, celery, and garlic. Don't have to be too precise; as Isaac Toups says, "JUST CHOP IT."
- Add oil to a Dutch oven on medium-low heat (err on the lower side if you're nervous about burning your roux).
- When oil is shimmering, sprinkle in the flour. It should sizzle as soon as it hits the oil. Start stirring immediately with a wooden spoon or spatula.
- As you cook the roux, it will darken in colour and look like it's "splitting" which is good. Keep stirring until the roux is a dark brown (see image further down in this post).
- Add the diced onion, bell pepper, and celery. More sizzling! After stirring for a few minutes, once the veggies have softened, add the garlic and bay leaves.
- Give it another stir, then add the amber beer.
- Once the pot starts to simmer, add the MSG, poultry seasoning, cayenne pepper, and black pepper. Pour in vegetable stock one cup at a time, stirring continuously and making sure to scrape the bottom to make sure nothing sticks for long.
- When everything comes back to a simmer, turn the heat down very low to maintain it at a bare simmer. Cover and let cook for about 3 hours, give or take 30 minutes. The consistency shouldn't be watery but it shouldn't be too thick, definitely on the soupy side.
- Taste for salt and add it as needed.
- Spoon into bowls, stir in chopped vegan sausage, and serve with steamed rice or potato salad. Or both if you love your carbs.
This vegan gumbo recipe is based on Louisiana chef Isaac Toups’ recipe for chicken and sausage gumbo, his video demonstration on Binging with Babish, and the helpful Redditors who roasted me last time I posted a “gumbo” picture. Let’s say this is my attempt at redemption!
Note that you have to get the roux pretty dark. I took this progress photo during the middle of cooking and it should be a few shades darker than this when you put in your vegetables.
Vegan Andouille Sausage Recipe
You can use your favourite seitan recipe and add a tablespoon of cajun seasoning, plus a few sprinkles of cayenne pepper and smoked paprika. Some smoked salt also does wonders for adding that smoky flavour. You’ll want to end up with at least 1/4 lb to 1/2 lb sausage per serving.
I used a 4:2:1 blend (by volume) of okara, vital wheat gluten, and flour. So that’s 1 cup okara (200 g), 1/2 cup vital wheat gluten (70 g), 1/4 cup flour (30 g), plus as much water as needed to form a malleable, non-crumbly dough. After adding the cajun seasoning, smoked paprika, and smoked salt, I packed the dough into sausage shapes, seared on a cast iron until a thick golden brown crust formed on all sides, then chopped them up and stirred into the gumbo before eating.
Unless your seitan recipe calls for it to be boiled, I don’t recommend adding the sausage at the simmering stage. I tried simmering mine on my first attempt; it all fell apart and fucked up the rest of the gumbo.
Vegan Gumbo Your Way
A lot of the little things in this recipe are to taste, like the MSG, poultry seasoning, salt, cayenne pepper. I add the MSG and poultry seasoning as sort of a replacement for chicken stock; if you don’t have those things just leave them out, maybe add a bit more salt. You can also use the vegan chicken Better than Bouillon stuff but I haven’t tried it myself yet. (If you think MSG is unhealthy I’m not going to force you to use it but you’re missing out on flavour my dude.) You know, just adjust to taste.
But the most important things which you must have for a gumbo to be gumbo are the onion, bell pepper, celery (“the holy trinity”), and garlic (“the pope”). Oh and the dark roux obviously. Trust me, if you forget any of those things people from New Orleans will find you and kill you, I’m saying this from experience.
You can substitute the bell pepper with some hot pepper variety, jalapeno, habanero, etc. if you like more heat. Another great suggestion is adding some parsley at the end.
Gumbo Recipe, Take 2
So, last time I made a “gumbo” it turns out it wasn’t gumbo at all. Really tragic moment, especially considering I’d actually been to New Orleans and tasted local gumbo three years earlier, but it taught me a great lesson about researching recipes thoroughly before giving them a specific name!
After getting flamed by a brigade of Louisianans I decided to look into how to make a proper vegan gumbo. Although gumbo is inherently non-vegan, with the most common variant containing chicken and andouille sausage, I think you can get pretty close by using homemade vegan sausage, a rich vegetable stock, and plenty of oil in the roux.
Anyway, while you’re here, let me regale you with some interesting facts I learned about gumbo on this journey
- Previously, I thought gumbo had to use either filé powder or okra as one of the thickening agents. But actually just the dark roux is enough! And some old cookbooks don’t bother with the roux at all if they use one of the other thickeners. Next time, I am thinking of adding some okra as I love the stuff. Haven’t found a place where I can get my hands on gumbo filé yet, but if I do I would love to try it.
- In fact, okra is kinda the OG because the word “gumbo” comes from a West African name for okra. The Choctaw nation introduced Filé as a substitution during months when okra was scarce.
- It’s not cool to make gumbo on Monday because that day is reserved for red beans and rice.
- One can eat gumbo with rice, or potato salad, or even cornmeal. Or probably other stuff too, but those first two seem to be the crowd favourites.
- Apparently, there’s a specific cajun long grain rice that you must use for gumbo. I searched for it and couldn’t figure out what exactly it is, so I used jasmine rice. Seems like a long shot sourcing this rice in my tiny Canadian city.
- Tomatoes are a super contentious topic. I added tomatoes to my not-gumbo and most people went OFF on me but a healthy minority were also saying tomatoes are fine. It’s a cajun vs creole thing.
- Beans never go in gumbo. This, along with lacking an element of the trinity, was the main downfall of my non-gumbo abomination.
- It’s rare to see meat and seafood in the same gumbo. There are three main categories of gumbo: seafood, poultry and sausage, and gumbo z’herbes which is a very different gumbo made without meat and with a lot of veggies for Lent.
Nutrition, Cost, and Emissions Information for Vegan Gumbo
This gumbo (excluding rice, potato salad, or other sides, and made using my okara seitan sausage recipe) comes to CAD$2.15 per serving at 742 cal each, with each serving adding about 558 gCO2e of carbon emissions to the atmosphere.
For reference, it’s recommended to limit daily emissions from food to 3,050 gCO2e/day per person.
Feel free to contact me for sources on the nutritional and carbon emissions information presented here. Note that I am not a nutritionist and guidelines on this page are provided for informational purposes only.