No excuses not to love Sea Island Okra Gumbo.

Being a holiday here the good ‘ole USA, I’m taking the day with my family so a shortened post but a good recipe nonetheless. It’s a gumbo from my friend Sallie Ann Robinson, cookbook author and Daufuskie Island native. This recipe is from one of her cookbooks, Gullah Cooking the Daufuskie Way. I apologize in not having step-by-step images from the recipe – actually I took pictures but somehow, when “cleaning” my laptop all but two of my finished shots were deleted. Excuses, excuses…

Too bad too, as the ham hocks were gorgeous that I used, as were the veggies and the fresh shrimp. Pinky promise to make this again and capture the process on “film”. Also a promise to share more about the talented Sallie Ann and unique and mysterious Daufuskie Island, which is the Lowcountry locale depicted in Pat Conroy’s novel, The Water is Wide (also the movie Conrack). Sallie Ann was one of the students Mr. Conroy taught in little Mary Field’s one room schoolhouse on Daufuskie. And he wrote the forward in her first cookbook too. So perhaps I’ve piqued your interest…come back for more good stuff soon.

This recipe is incredibly fresh with authentic Lowcountry flavor – use the freshest shrimp you can get and it’s still okra season- so no excuse not to make this simple, and hearty gumbo. Happy Labor Day!

Here’s a close up – I ladled this gumbo over some rice – traditional Lowcountry style!

Sallie Ann Robinson’s Sea Island Okra Gumbo

2 pieces fresh ham hock
3 pieces fresh pig tail*
1-2 cans diced or stewed tomatoes
4-5 cups of water
3 cups okra, washed and cut up
1 cup of fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined
Corn, fresh green beans (optional)
Salt & pepper to taste
Hot sauce, to taste

Put pig tails and ham hocks in medium pot, half full with water. Boil 20 minutes, then drain. This will clean the meat. Rinse the meat again, twice. Return the meat to the pot, add the tomatoes (more or less, as you prefer) and 4 to 5 cups of water, and boil slowly until the meat tender and the tomatoes break down in the soup (30 to 60 minutes). If you wish, pre-fry the okra with a dash of oil to reduce the slime. Add the okra, pre-fried or not, along with the shrimp, to the tomatoes and meat. If you like add corn, green beans, or any other vegetable, canned or fresh. Serve as a soup, over rice, or with stiff grits.

* Note: I could not find fresh pig tails so I dissolved ½ tsp. gelatin in about 1/3 cup water and added it to the meat/tomato/water stew. It thickened perfectly although if I could have found fresh pig tails I would have used them!

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