We were hanging out with our buddy Rodney at his bar in New Orleans’ 6th Ward when the conversation (as always) turned to food. We explained that we were excited to be making a kettle of gumbo for our family when Rodney exclaimed “y’all want some shark to put in it?”

Why yes, we’d love to put some shark in our family gumbo.

Rodney sent a helper to his house to raid the freezer and soon enough the man was back with a ziploc filled with shark plus a bonus of a few snapper heads.

Snapper heads make lovely stock, and while we have eaten shark a handful of times over the years, we had never used it in our seafood gumbo (ed. note: RL Reeves Jr’s gumbo is a potent weapon and has led to three victories in gumbo competitions over the years)

Recipe: Shark Gumbo with Smoked Andouille Sausage

3lbs shark meat, filleted and cut into 1″ chunks

1lb Sausage, andouille, cut into discs

3 each Onions, yellow, sweet, chopped

1 bunch Celery, chopped

4 each bell peppers, chopped

1 head Garlic, minced

2 t. Cayenne, powder (we were cooking for folks who do not like chile so we turned the heat level down)

1 T. Pepper, Black, ground

1 T. Paprika, ground

Salt, kosher, to taste

6 quarts stock, snapper-head recipe here or you may use chicken stock

2 bunches Onion, green, chopped

Method

First let’s make a roux. There are many ways to make this essential thickener, but here’s our favorite method:

* Heat 1 cup oil (goose fat, duck fat, peanut oil, bacon fat, butter for example) in heavy bottomed cast iron pot

* Add 1 cups flour, and stand stirring over medium heat for 20 minutes

* It is crucial that the roux be constantly stirred

* Once it’s a nice golden blond stop stirring and remove from heat

Now let’s make the gumbo

* Heat 1/4 c. peanut oil in large stockpot

* Add onions, peppers, and celery-the Holy Trinity of Cajun cuisine

* Cook for a minimum of 45 minutes or til the Trinity is nicely caramelized

* Add garlic, cook for 15 minutes more

* Add Black pepper, cayenne pepper and paprika, cook 15 minutes (this will bloom the spices)

* Add stock

* Add shark and sausage

* Simmer 30 minutes

* Add cold roux to hot gumbo, once again, crucial, this will keep your roux from separating

* Add chopped green onions, it’s not gumbo unless it has a truckload of green onions in it

* Simmer 30 minutes

Shark is one of the ‘meatier’ fishes you will ever encounter. Normally we would take the fillets and cook them like pork chops on a wood-fired grill, the flesh is dense enough to be treated like land-based protein and shark steaks make a great entree.

Crawfish would make a nice addition to this gumbo and if you have pescaterians in your family just omit the sausage.

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