Savory Crab-And-Shrimp Gumbo Exotica

Marsha Dean Phelts' cookbook pays tribute to a historic Florida community's seafood favorites.

Savory crab-and-shrimp gumbo exotica in black bowl

Victor Protasio; Food Stylist: Micah Morton; Prop Stylist: Jillian Knox

Active Time:
1 hrs 15 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs


  • 8 oz. sliced salt pork or thick-cut bacon slices

  • 6 medium-size yellow onions, chopped (about 5 cups)

  • 6 celery stalks, chopped (about 1 1/4 cups)

  • 1 large green bell pepper, chopped (about 1 1/4 cups)

  • 3 garlic cloves, minced (about 1 Tbsp.)

  • 1 (28-oz.) can crushed tomatoes

  • 1 (15-oz.) can tomato sauce

  • Basic Seasonings (recipe follows)

  • 1 lb. large peeled, deveined raw shrimp

  • 8 oz. fresh or frozen crabmeat (preferably backfin), drained and picked over

  • 8 oz. frozen cut okra, thawed (from 1 [16-oz.] pkg.)

  • 1/4 tsp. cornstarch or all-purpose flour, mixed with about 1 tsp. water or liquid from tomato can

Basic Seasonings

  • 1 Tbsp. seafood seasoning

  • 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

  • 1 Tbsp. hot sauce

  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice

  • 1 tsp. dried parsley flakes

  • 2 dried bay leaves


  1. Heat a large Dutch oven or pot over medium-high. Add salt pork or bacon, and cook until crisp, about 3 to 4 minutes per side; transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Crumble and set aside. Do not wipe skillet clean.

  2. Add onions, celery, bell pepper, and garlic to drippings in Dutch oven; cook over low, stirring often, until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.

  3. Stir together reserved salt pork or bacon, crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, and Basic Seasonings in a large bowl; add to vegetable mixture in Dutch oven, stirring to combine. Bring to a boil over medium-high. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until flavors meld, about 45 minutes.

  4. Stir shrimp, crabmeat, and okra into mixture in Dutch oven; cover and simmer, undisturbed, 15 minutes. Stir in cornstarch mixture or flour mixture until blended. Remove and discard bay leaves. Divide gumbo evenly among 8 bowls, and serve immediately.

Basic Seasonings

Active Time: 5 min. - Total Time: 5 min. - Makes about 1/4 cup

  1. Stir together seafood seasoning, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, lemon juice, dried parsley flakes, and dried bay leaves in a small bowl until combined.

Adapted with permission from The American Beach Cookbook. University Press of Florida, 2008.

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