Shrimp and ham are a classic pairing, but this gumbo contains little else that’s traditional. While most gumbos are thickened with roux and flavored with the “Cajun Trinity” of bell peppers, onions, and celery, this gumbo has neither, proving that sometimes shaking up tradition can be a good thing.
What to buy: Some grocery stores carry shell-on shrimp that are deveined, meaning the intestinal tract that runs up the back of each shimp has been removed. Deveining is optional in this recipe, but if prefer it, you may need to clean the shrimp yourself.
Fresh okra works best in this dish, acting as the thickener, but you can also use frozen sliced okra. When cooking it, especially the fresh variety, don’t be alarmed by the glutinous clear liquid it emits, which is normal. Some cooks add a touch of vinegar to cut the slime; younger, smaller pods have less of it.
Tasso is cured pork, usually shoulder, that’s rubbed with a mixture of filé and other spices, then smoked. It’s a Cajun specialty that adds a lot of character to this dish, but if you have a hard time finding it, you can substitute pancetta or another variety of ham; or get it online from CajunGrocer.com.
For the gumbo base: