Nearly 30 years ago I was at a family friends house, Renelee Hebert, and she served me a bowl of her filé gumbo. It was delicious! I never forgot that bowl of gumbo and have been wanting that recipe since then. I recently talked to Renelee and she gave me her recipe... This is the best filé gumbo I've ever tasted.
Cover bottom of large gumbo pot with 1/4" of vegetable oil. Add flour and whisk until smooth. If more oil or flour is needed add to the mixture until a thick paste forms.
Turn heat on the medium-high and cook until it begins to bubble, then turn heat down to medium until roux reaches a little darker than peanut butter, stirring frequently. As the roux gets darker you'll have to stir constantly and reduce heat to medium-low.
Add onions, celery & bell pepper and mix well into roux. Add 2 quarts oyster water, Lea & Perrin's, Tabasco and sprinkle the top with minced garlic, crushed red pepper flakes, and gumbo crabs.
Turn heat to medium-high and simmer for 30-45 minutes or until onions turn opaque. As the mixture thickens add 2 more quarts of oyster water.
Add a little salt and pepper. If you're using oysters don't finish seasoning with salt until after the oysters are added. If no oysters are added then salt to taste.
When mixture begins to bubble again, add shrimp and cook until they turn pink, stirring constantly. Add crabmeat and cook 10-15 minutes.
Add oysters and remaining water from oysters, or water to bring gumbo to desired consistency. Cook 5-10 minutes or until oysters are cooked. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed.
In a large bowl put a good scoop of white rice then sprinkle about 1/2 teaspoon of filé powder. Ladle gumbo over rice and enjoy.
*NOTES - Oysters come in quart, half-gallon and gallon containers and are stored in their own liquid (oyster water), and many seafood markets sell oyster water for a couple of dollars. Bring your own containers and they might just give it to you. If you can't get oyster water then use shrimp stock, chicken broth, or water in its place.
If you're not using oysters at all then use 7-10 pounds of shrimp.
Filé is a thickening agent so you want your gumbo to have a thin consistency. The filé will thicken the gumbo right in your bowl. A little filé goes a long way.