So I kind of flaked on spice week. I blame the extreme sickness that came and visited me for too long.
Because I only posted three recipes, I wanted to follow up with a fourth post on unique spices. For this post, I shall talk about file powder. Pronounced FEE-lay, it is a term for ground sassafrass leaves and is one of two ingredients that work with roux to thicken gumbo (the other being okra) and is a flavoring spice in other cajun food.
File makes the gumbo broth dark and gives the whole dish an earthy, savory taste that is not present in okra-based gumbo. In addition, file powder seasons the entire broth whereas the only thing that tastes like okra is the okra. As an added benefit, file powder does not get slimy and chewy like okra that has been cooked to long. Which is not to say that I do not like okra gumbo. I make it a lot, I just prefer file-based gumbo.
So here is my challenge to you. In the United States where I am at, the weather is starting to get cold and winter will soon be upon us. Cold weather is the perfect excuse to try out a new soup or stew recipe, so if you have not had a file-based gumbo, give one of these recipes a try!