335 – On The Jambalaya Jive

I’m sure most of you have heard the term “jambalaya” from that Carpenters tune. But did you know that jambalaya is actually a dish of Cajun origin?

Jambalaya is a dish consisting of meat, seafood, and rice mixed together with spices and the holy trinity of celery, onions and bell peppers. Close analogues include the Spanish paella and the Filipino dishes arroz valenciana and bringhe.

The best way to enjoy jambalaya without the need to take a flight to the New Orleans or Baton Rouge airports is to try it out at a restaurant specializing in Cajun cuisine. Thankfully, there was a restaurant – Gumbo in Cubao’s Gateway Mall – that offered the dish.

I managed to try it around 2015 or 2016, but I failed to publish my take on it after my old laptop broke down in 2017. Unfortunately, I was unable to recover a chock full of files from its hard disk as it had already been corrupted.

While I previously wrote about the Fish Pontchartrain in an earlier post, it’s simply a Cajun-inspired dish and not a standard staple of New Orleans cuisine. It had been a while since I last tried out something Cajun on the menu, so I headed to Tex-Mex joint Burgoo at the same mall for my fix. Gumbo and Burgoo are sister restaurants, so some of the items from the Cajun counterpart were served at the fusion cuisine establishment.

I checked out the joint on a Sunday afternoon with a view to having an early dinner. I asked one of the restaurant’s crew members if they still served the Jambalaya from Gumbo, to which I received an affirmative answer. With that, I asked for a table for one and proceeded to order the Seafood and Chicken Jambalaya in petite size (P595).

The restaurant staff member who took my order clarified whether I wanted the Gumbo version (that uses Cajun rice) or the Burgoo version (that uses pilaf rice) of jambalaya. I took the former, and requested that the spice level be kept mild.

My order of jambalaya arrived after 20 minutes, exactly the same one I tried back in 2015. Kudos to Burgoo for keeping its sister establishment’s recipe alive! The serving size for this dish was just right, and I did not need to order any additional dishes to pair it with.

True to its name, Gumbo‘s Seafood and Chicken Jambalaya brought New Orleans to the Philippine capital. This take on the dish made use of rice sautéed with the so-called “holy trinity” and liberal amounts of Cajun spices; it contained no tomatoes, however.

The joint did not scrimp on the proteins, as seen in the pictures. Two marinated and grilled chicken breast fillets topped the jambalaya. An assortment of seafood – peeled shrimps, squid chunks, mussels, and clams – were mixed in with the rice. Slices of andouille sausage were also mixed in, just like the actual version. With this amount of protein, any accompaniments were unnecessary.

I requested a mild spice level for the jambalaya, but even then, it still had a slight kick to it. The rice was flavorful, absorbing the Cajun spices and the flavors of the different seafood added in. The shrimp and squid were tender and not gummy (a sign that they were overcooked). Meanwhile, the shellfish did not have any brackish taste and also took on the flavor of the dish.

I finished the small plate, leaving only the shells behind. Good thing I also ordered the joint’s Fresh Lemonade (P159) to wash down the jambalaya. The drink cut through the spice and seafood, providing a refreshing hint. Just like before, I added water to the leftover lemon upon finishing the drink – free fat-burning lemon water.

That’s it for this entry. Until the next post, “son of a gun, we’ll have big fun on the bayou…


32 thoughts on “335 – On The Jambalaya Jive

  1. Cajun spice and Jambalaya are yummy! Cheesecake Factory has a delicious Jambalaya pasta although it’s been years since I’ve had it. The protein looks ample in that dish. Your post has inspired me to check it out again…my 9 year old daughter would love the spices and protein.
    Have a great weekend!

  2. Wow, that dish looks very delicious. 🤩
    It seems kinda similar to paella, am I right?
    We had this in Europe sometimes. It’s also made from rice, seafood and – if I remember it right – some chicken. But I’m not sure about that one anymore as it’s too long ago.

    It’s very cool that you have the possibility to taste all these foreign dishes in the Philippines, too. 🤩
    I somewhat envy you as western food is pretty (actually in most cases too) expensive here in Bali. 😞

    • Yes! In fact, paella is one of jambalaya’s influences. But truth be told, I find that it’s a mix of different culinary traditions — from the use of spices (African) to its main ingredient of rice (Spanish). 🙂

      Well, Manila is a melting pot of both local and foreign influences. 😀 It’s not uncommon to see a Spanish restaurant beside a Japanese sushi bar, and a Chinese hot pot joint just beside a Vietnamese establishment that sells pho and banh mi here in the Philippines.

  3. Nice! My sister used to have a restaurant in Cebu called Gumbology. She closed it a few years ago, but this post reminds me of it. I also now know where to go in case we crave cajun food.

    • Wow, interesting! I’m glad that my post evoked those memories. 🙂

      I looked up the menu on Zomato, and kudos to your sister for literally serving the world on a platter with cuisines from different parts of the world! 😀

    • Not to fret, though; if I remember correctly, you’re based in Kenya now, yes? I’ve read about a similar dish over there in Africa that may sound familiar to you — jollof rice.

      • Yeah I’m Kenyan and I love jollof rice although it’s more of a West African dish than an East African one but I think it’s a bit different. It is super delicious though. Have you ever had it?

      • I haven’t tried it yet, but I saw it on the menu of a pan-African restaurant here. That joint catered to African exchange students who were either studying medicine or dentistry at universities in the Philippine capital.

        I hope it opens up a branch near me, though – so I can try it out soon.

    • Woah! This one’s a bloody fantastic version; thank you for recommending that, Shane! I love how Fogerty infused the signature CCR sound into the song.

      Here’s the tune for the rest of the readers:

  4. I don’t think today’s generation ever heard of The Carpenters. That’s got to be the worst song I ever heard from them If you are talking Jambalaya, play some country Cajun songs is my suggestion.

    • You’d be surprised how many people in my generation are familiar with the Carpenters — thanks to their parents. While that song may sound bad to you, I find it memorable.

      So nope, the Carpenters version stays in this entry. My blog, my preferences.

      Besides, it’s a cover of another tune. Karen and Richard also covered “Please Mister Postman” — yet I find the Beatles’ version better-sounding.

      A fellow blogger from Ireland already recommended John Fogerty’s version of “Jambalaya”, which oddly reminds me of “Bad Moon Rising” with the guitar work (I posted it in reply to his comment.)

  5. I many like your beautiful blog. A pleasure to come stroll on your pages. A nice discovery. I will come back to visit you. Do not hesitate to visit my universe. See you soon.😊

    • How many blogs have you posted this comment on? Are you even aware that I do not speak French?

      If you want to litter WordPress with spam, you picked the wrong blog to visit.

      Cheese-eating surrender monkey.

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