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The Gumbo from Goode Co. Seafood

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I recently found a copy of Cooking up a Storm: Recipes Lost and Found from the Times-Picayune of New Orleans at Half-Price Books, and had planned to try the recipe for gumbo on Fat Tuesday but ran out of time. I still had my heart set on some Mardi Gras gumbo, even if I couldn't make it myself. Enter Goode Co. Seafood.

While there are many excellent offerings here - the seafood empanadas and stellar campechana come to mind - it's the gumbo that I crave most often. I always opt for the seafood gumbo, which combines crab, shrimp and oysters. The crab and shrimp as stand-alones are fine, I suppose, but why would you get your gumbo that way, when all three oceanic delicacies combined cost the exact same amount? Exactly.

That's how I got mine the other day. I had split an order of the aforementioned campechana with my wife and, not wanting to have to ward off the inevitable post-gumbo nap that would have resulted from a full bowl, ordered a cup of the glorious stuff to follow.

What I love about Goode Co. gumbo is what I love about all well-crafted gumbo. The roux. It's all about the roux. Goode Co. crafts a good roux, getting the flour-fat mixture nice and dark, but not so dark that bitterness creeps in. I've tasted many a gumbo ruined by a cook over-reaching, trying for that holy-grail of brick-red, deepest darkest roux, and failing. I'd much rather a gumbo that knows what it's about, with a roux that's dark enough to coax subtleties out of the disarmingly simple combination of flour and fat, but stops shy of pushing things too far. Goode Co. has that down pat.

On top of that, this gumbo is a generous gumbo. Even in my small cup, I found two or three plump oysters, their exterior giving way to the almost scandalously silken texture within. Their brininess both rose above and highlighted the complex earthiness of the ruddy sauce. Sweet crab and vaguely iodine-tinged shrimp threaded through the bowl in equally emphatic concentration, ensuring that every spoonful was a treasure-trove of seafood. Perfectly cooked rice and vibrantly green onion completed the dish. I left full and happy, eager to follow through with my own gumbo aspirations.

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