Catfish Gumbo

Although we call this one Catfish Gumbo, we also put some shrimp and crab in along with garlic and oysters.

Here in South Africa we call this character a Babel - Baber - in Afrikaans. This is what the fish looks like.

The thing about this fish is the skin – other than ordinary fish with scales, catfishes skin must be pulled off with a pair of pairs.

But then again, some people say, “With the skin – without the skin – the taste is the same”

So I guess it all comes down to a matter of taste.

Me? - I pulla da skin!


Place a medium size whack over medium heat, and add the oil. Allow the oil to heat for about 5 minutes, then add the flour to the whack.

Stir the oil and flour together with a wooden spoon to form the Roux.

Continue to stir the Roux for 20 to 25 minutes, or until it turn the colour of light milk chocolate.

Add the onions, the bell peppers, and celery to the Roux and stir to blend. Stir the vegetables in for 5 minutes, then add the garlic.

Cook the garlic for 30 seconds before adding the beer and Shrimp Stock to the pot.

Season the it with the thyme, bay leaves, crabs, Worcestershire, salt, and cayenne pepper.

Bring the broth to a boil and lower the heat to a simmer.

Continue to simmer for 1 hour, skimming the foam and any oil that rises to the surface.

Season both the shrimp and the fish with 1 1/2 teaspoons Essence.

Stir the shrimp and fish into the gumbo and cook for 2 minutes.

Add the oysters to the pot and cook, stirring often, for an additional 5 minutes.

Taste the gumbo and season if necessary.

Garnish with the parsley and green onions and serve in shallow bowls over white rice.

Makes 10 to 12 servings.


  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped onions
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped green bell peppers
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped celery
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • One 12-ounce bottle amber beer
  • 6 cups Shrimp Stock
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 pound gumbo crabs (about 2)
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 pound white catfish fillets,
  • 1 tablespoon Emeril's Original Essence
  • 2 cups shucked oysters with their liquor
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup chopped tender green onion tops

The white flesh of the fish shows up nicely in a colourful dish like this one. The reds and greens of the vegetables shine a beautiful picture on the plate when you dress the table for a ready dinner.

Enjoy your Catfish Gumbo – your first one is it?

Hope to hear from you on this one – it’s ALL South African!

A good rosé or white wine does as much for the food as it does for the social conversation around the table, don’t you think?


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