Once I needed a meal for someone (me) who had just had a root canal—something soft enough to reduce chewing, tasty enough to take one’s mind off the waning, but lingering pain, and lower G. I. for dietary reasons. This dish is the result of what I had on hand at the time.

Technically, gumbo is a soup or stew thickened with okra pods. Jambalaya, on the other hand, consists of rice that has been cooked with ham (jambon), shrimp, oysters, or chicken and seasoned with herbs and spices. Both are concoctions found everywhere nowadays, and especially in Louisiana. I decided to combine the recipes and names. Also, the name Gumbolaya implies you can just gum it.

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 8 oz okra, cut in 1” pieces
  • 8 oz fillet of sole* , cut in pieces
  • 3 oz ham, diced finely
  • 1 (14½-oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 4 oz onion, diced finely
  • 2 tsp garlic purée
  • 2 oz carrots, diced finely
  • 8 oz white wine
  • 8 oz chicken stock
  • 1 tsp low sodium chicken bouillon
  • 1 tsp clam base
  • 1 tsp yeast extract (e.g. Marmite® or Vegemite®)
  • ½ tsp black pepper, freshly ground
  • ½ cup shiitake mushrooms, washed and sliced, discard stems
  • ½ medium sized bell pepper, seeds removed and diced
  • ¼ cup long grain or basmati rice
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Over medium heat, combine the flour and oil, and carefully stir until a medium brown (blond) roux (pronounced roo) results. Remove from heat and add all the remaining ingredients except the rice and added water.

Reapply heat and stir while bringing the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat, and let simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the rice and extra water, stir, and simmer for 20 minutes. Serve with Parmesan sprinkled on top.

Depending on appetites, serves 4 to 6.