Monday, August 18, 2008

Gumbo Z'Herb

The mother-in-law is visiting this week. Since she likes gardening and farmer's markets, and I like soup, I pulled out a recipe for Green Herb Gumbo, supposedly a traditional Cajun/Creole dish made after Lent, though I have no such memory from my Louisiana days nor would I have eaten it as a child being full of healthy green vegetables. It's a big stew with ham and a bunch of different greens. So Saturday morning we went to the Farmer's Market and found the best greens we could find, whether or not they exactly matched the recipe. Here we have the resulting menagerie:


Let's see if I can name them all. Starting from the left and going clockwise, we have: green onions, Ewa sweet onion (a local variety from Ewa on the southwest side of Oahu), ta tsoi? (it's very much like baby spinach), celery, green onions again, Chinese chives, half a green cabbage, parsley, Swiss chard, curry leaves (used like a bay leaf from South and SE Asia, fresh oregano, choi sum, and a green bell pepper. There's also a few spices and some guinea pig food in the back. I put grass pellets in everything I cook now. You?

Almost everything you see here ends up in the soup. It all boils down. The cabbage in particular was at the top of the pan before cooking down. A couple exceptions are only one onion and only two stalks of celery were used. And not all the green onions. So, next up, you have a chopping party. Here you can see everything chopped and in bowls. I've added the lb of ham as well.



After this, you heat up 2-3 TBs of oil in the pot. I used bacon grease that I'd saved from earlier breakfasts. In theory, it's for cornbread but I never seem to actually make cornbread. Add ham, onions, thyme, and parsley to the pot. I think it was sauteeing up the fresh oregano, but I swear this was one of the best smelling things, at this point, that I've ever had in my kitchen. The stock and greens get rid of this yummy smell though. Fry it up for about 5 minutes.



Next, add in the bell pepper and celery and fry for about two minutes more. Then add the cabbage and stock. The recipe that I had called for water or a light stock. Another recipe online called for all chicken stock. I ended up with about 3 cups of chicken broth from Costco, two cups of homemade vegetable stock that I had made once and bagged in the freezer, and 4 cups of water. Bring the cabbage and all the other ingredients to a boil and then simmer for 5 minutes or so.



Next, add in the chard and choi sum and boil for just a couple minutes. Add in the ta tsoi (spinach), parsley, chives, and green onion and boil for a few minutes more. Add in spices. I used salt, pepper, more oregano and thyme, garlic powder, and paprika. I added some and then when it was a bit bland added more.

That's it! Complete one pot dish and it actually came out pretty well. Gives you a reason to eat greens you might never eat otherwise, such as chard. We had it Saturday night and then again tonight, Monday. Still good. We don't know exactly how much it cost, but we are thinking it's about $3 a head and makes 8-10 servings. It's a logical after Easter dish. You use up your left over Easter ham and then grab this and that Spring greens to throw in. You do not need the exact vegies I used. Basically, we replaced watercress and spinach with choi sum and ta tsoi, but you need not. Supposedly, a variety is key to the dish, but the variety can be tailored to your area.

11 comments:

Robin S. said...

Looks wonderful - I love all greens and I love bacon drippings.

Your food always looks good (presentation, A+) and the ingredients sounds good, too (A+ for combinations). Soooooo...if you ever get tired of teaching at the university level someday...

Mommy to Ander and Wife to Box said...

Very pretty...but it sounds, well, healthy and gross. So when I visit Hawaii to enjoy your hospitality (as in, crash on your floor because we can't afford a hotel ;)), make something more fried and less healthy. LOL.

Mommy to Ander and Wife to Box said...

Post idea:

Alan (sammyjankis) and I were having a discussion, and we were wondering about a sound question. Feel free to make a blog post and enlighten us, because we don't know anyone else who might even know. (See how once I get demanding, I get really demanding? See above comment for examples. :))

What do you call it when you can tell different people by the way their voices sound but still be tone-deaf? How come I can instantly know it's Alan or Tom or whoever on the phone, by their voice, but not know if they are asking a question? If I can distinguish between voices, shouldn't I be able to distinguish between tones?

We were just wondering. You might not even know...

sylvia said...

I have some questionable ham (pressed) that someone bought me. I complained that you couldn't get good pink ham in Spain (yes, the local ham is wonderful. But sometimes, I just dream of honey-roast) and this person, who has clearly never had decent ham in his entire forsaken life, got a tube of ham.

I've been staring at it, trying to work out what to do with it.

I'm thinking once you start boiling cubes of ham, the consistency is maybe not so critical. So I'm thinking to try this (I have chard and rocket and lots of other nice green stuff) with extra bacon fat (I save it to spoon into beans).

If I'm about to make a huge mistake, please tell me before the weekend....

pacatrue said...

Doesn't sound like a mistake to me, Sylvia. A stew is always a good way to use dubious ingredients. Make sure you have some good herbs to liven up the whole thing.

sylvia said...

Good point.

What are the grass pellets?

writtenwyrdd said...

I'm glad you were kidding about the grass pellets. Mmmmm, alfalfa soup...not. Looks delicious.

pacatrue said...

No grass pellets for real, Sylvia. I think I'll just give those to the guinea pigs.

Sylvia said...

And there I was, scouring the aisles!

I'll let you know :D

Ello said...

I absolutely love your recipe posts. They are my favorites! And great pictures here too! It sounds and looks so yummy! You have to do some special Hawaiian recipes sometimes too! please?

sylvia said...

We had it for lunch today. :)

A couple of comments:

You add parsley twice - I think the first time you mean Oregano as you commented on how nice it smelled. I added the oregano in later so it wasn't a big deal but I thought I'd mention in.

The pressed ham was AWFUL - it went really soft, like spam that's been left out in the sun. Ergh.


I added Udon noodles at the very end to make it a bit heartier - more of a stew than a soup. That went over well.

My greens were chard and rocket - the broth was lovely! Only the meat was a bit of a let-down. :(