Skip to main content

Walleye Week: Catch and Cook—Walleye and Shrimp Gumbo

Walleye Week: Catch and Cook—Walleye and Shrimp Gumbo
Walleye Gumbo is a fine meal for anyone who love fish, and it also makes for outstanding left-overs as the taste is enhanced after a couple of days in the fridge.

Some 30 years ago I made friends with an angler, adventurer, and future author from New Orleans who taught me how to cook fish and wild game in ways that fell outside my Minnesota experience. Taste-buds awakened when I first tried authentic seafood gumbo, bouillabaisse, jambalaya, and other creole dishes prepared in a sweaty apartment kitchen, fishing stories fueled by brown bottles of cheap, cold beer.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love fried walleye with baked beans and potatoes/onions; that’s a gold standard. But when you fish a lot—and like to cook for friends and family—you do start to look for other ways to prepare fish. Not to mention that the inflated price of groceries and dining out. Yes, keeping fish has become part of this angler’s regimen after years of almost pure catch and release. Having several kids, too, incentivizes making use of harvest limits that come with the price of a fishing license.

walleye gumbo ingredients
The freshest ingredients make for the best gumbo.

Decades since, I’ve adapted what I learned from R.K. back in the mid-to-late ‘90s, continually tweaking my own gumbo recipe with everything from small bass, to panfish, white bass, pike, and walleye. Wild turkey (the bird, not the booze), goose, and venison also makes a filling and tasty gumbo. Insert snapping turtle, squirrels, you-name-it, too.

So, despite the title “Walleye and Shrimp” gumbo, you can use whatever you’re lucky enough to throw in the cooler that particular day.

You might be asking: Why shrimp? Isn’t walleye enough? It is—and it isn’t.

Whole shrimp just make preparing a passable seafood stock easier. I combine one box of chicken bone broth, two cheap beers, a broth box worth of water, 12 to 18 shell-on (but deveined) large 8 to 12 count shrimp, as well as a couple panfish or small white bass scaled and gutted to boil in the mixture, which creates a suitable gumbo broth base. You can also use walleye heads in creating the seafood broth and remove the cheek meat when softened by the rolling boil.

Once the liquid has boiled for 5 to 8 minutes or so, I’ll pull out the fish with tongs, and pull all the meat off the panfish for the broth and discard the remaining bones, fins, and head. If the shrimp you use are deveined, I leave the shells on through mealtime, which I think is fun for everyone while eating—having to pull the shrimp out with fingers and peel off the shell.

gumbo broth base
Creating the perfect gumbo broth base is very easy, it starts with a combination of the right ingredients and cheap domestic beer.

STEP 1: Prepare impromptu seafood stock as suggested above in the largest stock pot you can find.

STEP 2: Drop a half stick of butter into a large cast-iron pan; stir. Fill pan with trinity ingredients (celery, onion, peppers) and stir over medium until they begin to soften and just start to brown. Scrape ingredients into stock pot.

STEP 3: Add a little more butter to the same cast-iron pan and cook chopped okra and cubed tomatoes until softened, or a slightly browned, and the inner mucous-like goodness of the okra and tomato juices leeching out into the pan. Scrape all into the stock pot with broth and trinity.

STEP 4: Turn heat up a little bit and add chopped smoked Andouille sausage, cooking until slightly brown. Scrape ingredients, including browned, meaty bits on bottom of the pan into stock pot.

STEP 5: Bring stock pot to a rolling boil for 5 minutes, then reduce heat to medium-low. Let slow cook for the good part of a morning or afternoon to allow the flavors to commingle.

Recommended


STEP 6: After a few hours of slow-cooking, add shrimp (from impromptu seafood stock boil) and walleye chunks. Let the mixture slow-cook for another hour—or until floating walleye chunks appear almost flaking. The goal is to keep the walleye chunks intact, not broken up if added to the gumbo too early in the process.

STEP 7: Turn burner on low and check broth thickness after an hour or so. It may be too thin. Proceed to creating a roux, which will thicken up the gumbo.

STEP 8: In the same cast iron pan used for all recipe prep, use an entire stick of butter, and start adding one heaping spoon of browned flour at a time until the roux thickens up and turns brown. DO NOT overheat and burn the roux. Whisk constantly to marry the butter and flour. You can add a few dashes of Kitchen Bouquet at this time, too. Start by adding a spoon of the prepared roux (should be paste-like) at a time to the gumbo pot, stirring to meet the broth/gravy thickness you prefer! Also keep in mind that the gumbo will thicken as you allow it to cool.

STEP 9: Serve gumbo in bowls with small amount of rice on the side; garnish with parsley and serve with various hot sauces, salt/pepper, Old Bay, Cajun Seasoning, etc,. and lots of napkins.

Ingredients

Preparing the ‘Trinity’

    • Half a stick butter
    • (2) onions, chopped
    • (1) red pepper; (1) yellow/orange pepper; (1) green pepper—all chopped
    • (1) bunch of celery, chopped
03-walleye-gumbo-raw_trinity_ingredients
The fresh trinity.

Other vegetables to be sautéed

    • More butter
    • Two bags of frozen whole or cut-up okra (readily available at Walmart); or 12 to 15 fresh okra
    • 10 to 12 Roma tomatoes cubed (half amount for larger tomato varieties)

Impromptu Seafood Stock

    • 1 small gutted, gilled, and scaled white bass or a couple panfish similarly cleaned—or the heads of several “eater” walleyes, gills removed
    • 1 to 1.5 lbs. large shrimp, deveined but with shells on
    • 2 cans cheap domestic beer
    • 1 16 oz. box of chicken stock or chicken bone broth
    • 16 to 32 ounces of water (depending on the thickness you want)
    • 1 to 2 cubes Maggi spice cubes
    • (optional can of tomato puree or cubed tomatoes)
Sautéd okra
Sautéd okra is a must for gumbo lovers, and it's done best in a cast-iron skillet.

Other Gumbo Goodies

    • Meat pulled from fish used in seafood stock—bones and skin discarded—don’t forget the walleye cheeks if you sever the heads from your walleye fillet carcasses!
    • Shrimp pulled out of stock for gumbo and set aside
    • 1 to 2 Andouille rope sausages (I use Andouille-seasoned venison ring bologna)
    • 8 to 12 walleye fillets cut into thirds

Preparing a Roux

    • One stick butter
    • Sprinkle melting—almost bubbling—butter with *browned flour until it begins to form a paste, whisking constantly so as not to burn
    • Add enough roux to thicken the gumbo to your liking; add any remaining roux to the dog’s food dish
walleye gumbo roux prepared
Making the best roux is easy, and it really brings together a tasty gumbo recipe.
prepared gumbo roux
Once all the ingredients are mixed, the roux is ready to be mixed and slow-cooked with the rest of the gumbo ingredients.

Cooking Rice

    • Boil two cups of water for every cup of rice or dry rice added. Bring water to a boil, add rice, turn down to low, low on the stove dial, cover and listen to one side of your favorite album.
    • Generally speaking—2 cups of rice is enough to feed me and three kids. I make more for visits from fishing buddies. Whatever kind of white rice you have will work, even Minute Rice (in a pinch)—which makes gumbo prep while camping super easy.
    • *R.K.’s creole grandmother used to sprinkle a liberal amount of sifted flour on cookie sheets, bake at 350 to 400 in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour to create a “browned” flour that adds much flavor to a roux over simple white flour. She’d store the oven-prepared, browned flour in an empty coffee can or Mason jar and place in the pantry for easy roux and gravy making of all kinds. There is a huge difference in taste!

Finishing Ingredients

    • 1 bunch of parsley
    • File spice powder
    • Cajun seasoning; Louisiana hot sauce; salt and pepper

Sprinkle gumbo top with a bit of file spice. Taste and add Cajun season seasoning and hot sauce as you prefer. Enjoy with the beverage of your choice like ice-cold beer, water, or sweet tea. Share fishing stories (and this recipe) with your friends and family. Make memories. Refrigerate leftovers (which will always be better the second day). Freeze any remnants, gumbo and rice mixed together for easy lunches.




GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

Recent Videos

In this throw-back video, Dave Csanda shares some insight on the best way to tempt big walleyes into eating with what he...
Learn

Angler and Rescuers Reunite After One-In-A-Million Offshore Epic

In this throw-back video, Dave Csanda shares some insight on the best way to tempt big walleyes into eating with what he...
Destinations

World-Class Channel Cats below the Selkirk Dam in Manitoba with Blackwater Cats

In this throw-back video, Dave Csanda shares some insight on the best way to tempt big walleyes into eating with what he...
Learn

Controlled Drifting for GIANT Blue Cats with Phil King

In this throw-back video, Dave Csanda shares some insight on the best way to tempt big walleyes into eating with what he...
Learn

3 SIMPLE and EASY Catfish Rigging Tips with Captain Ross Robertson

In this throw-back video, Dave Csanda shares some insight on the best way to tempt big walleyes into eating with what he...
Destinations

CATFISH FEVER!

In this throw-back video, Dave Csanda shares some insight on the best way to tempt big walleyes into eating with what he...
Learn

How To: Rigging For Fall Catfish

In this throw-back video, Dave Csanda shares some insight on the best way to tempt big walleyes into eating with what he...
Gear

The PERFECT Rod to Carolina Rig With G. Loomis GLX Bass Rods

In this throw-back video, Dave Csanda shares some insight on the best way to tempt big walleyes into eating with what he...
Destinations

In-Fisherman Classics: Stalking Giant Flatheads AFTER DARK

In this throw-back video, Dave Csanda shares some insight on the best way to tempt big walleyes into eating with what he...
Destinations

In-Fisherman Classics: Big Cat Safari - Finding Spring Channel Catfish

In this throw-back video, Dave Csanda shares some insight on the best way to tempt big walleyes into eating with what he...
Fishing

New Podcast! Life on the Lower Niagara River with Capt. Frank Campbell

In this throw-back video, Dave Csanda shares some insight on the best way to tempt big walleyes into eating with what he...
Learn

In-Fisherman Classics: Where to Find Post-spawn Walleyes

In this throw-back video, Dave Csanda shares some insight on the best way to tempt big walleyes into eating with what he...
Learn

In-Fisherman Classics: What Are the Top Walleye Baits Of ALL TIME?

In-Fisherman Magazine Covers Print and Tablet Versions

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

Buy Digital Single Issues

Magazine App Logo

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the In-Fisherman App

Other Magazines

See All Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get the top In-Fisherman stories delivered right to your inbox.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All In-Fisherman subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Enjoying What You're Reading?

Get a Full Year
of Guns & Ammo
& Digital Access.

Offer only for new subscribers.

Subscribe Now