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Gumbo galore

March 06, 2003|Jessica Strand

Ultra-dark and hot

Bayou in Alhambra makes "blackwater" gumbo, based on an ultra-dark roux made by frying flour in chicken and andouille sausage grease. Then white and red onions, celery, jalapenos, okra and bell peppers are cooked in it, and chicken and andouille are added, along with a good shake of homemade hot sauce. After the gumbo cooks, it stands overnight before being served on rice garnished with fried okra chips. (Blackwater gumbo, small, $4.50; large, $8.95.)

Bayou, 10 N. 1st St., Alhambra, (626) 943-9901.

Choose from two roux

Gumbo Pot chef Clinton Thompson makes two soups: a seafood gumbo of crabmeat and shrimp in a light roux and gumbo ya ya: chicken, andouille and shrimp in a dark, spicy roux. Both roux are cooked with bell peppers, celery, onions, garlic and thyme, and the gumbos come with rice, cornbread and a choice of salads (sweet potato, coleslaw, five-bean, Creole potato or green). (Either gumbo: small, $4.95; large, $7.75.)

Gumbo Pot, Farmers Market, 6333 W. 3rd St., Los Angeles, (323) 933-0358.

Sausage is the spicy secret

The secret of Iva Lee's thick gumbo is andouille sausage straight from La Place, La. It's triple-smoked with pecan wood, giving it a sweet, nutty flavor. The soup's roux base is cooked to a peanut butter brown. Okra, celery, onions and peppers are cooked in it, then it's thinned with stock and spices, and crayfish tails and the andouille are added. The gumbo is served with a mound of sticky rice in the center, topped with chopped green onions and red bell peppers. (Gumbo, $6.50.)

Iva Lee's, 555 N. El Camino Real, San Clemente, (949) 361-2855.

Sweet sassafras in the broth

Les Sisters Southern Kitchen chef-owner Kevin Huling uses neither roux nor okra in his gumbo. To a base of fresh chicken stock he adds onions, celery and fresh oregano, then chicken wings, crabmeat, hot pork sausage and snapper. After it cooks for a while, he flavors it with cayenne and thickens the broth with file (powdered sassafras leaf). It comes garnished with lemon, with rice on the side. (Gumbo file, appetizer, $7; dinner, $14.45.)

Les Sisters Southern Kitchen, 21818 Devonshire St., Chatsworth, (818) 998-0755.

-- Jessica Strand

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