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…“