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File Powder - Calling all Cajuns and Creoles -

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MarkR View Drop Down
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    Posted: 08 January 2013 at 18:04
Some folks don't like it(file`) at all. We generally put a dash or two on the top of a bowl of gumbo - a non okra gumbo. Never "cook" with it. Ok, I still put file` on my gumbo with okra, just me!
Mark R
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gonefishin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 September 2012 at 19:25



   Hi Rod!

  Describing what file' powder adds to a dish can be difficult to do (at least for me).  To me, it adds an earthyness to the dish...almost imparting a roundness to the other flavors.  Of course, it also adds a nice mouthfeel to the dish. 


   Personally, I don't cook with file' powder.  I only use it after the heat has been turned off, usually adding when I plate the food.  But this doesn't mean that you can't cook with it.  I usually put it in the bowl of hot gumbo/stew and stir it up...as the bowl sits it will provide some thickening power and mouthfeel...along with the flavor.  I would suggest getting a few small coffee cups of gumbo (maybe one cup).  Put one teaspoon of file' powder in each...wait a minute, stir and try the first cup and note the taste/feel.  Since you put the file' in the other cups at the same time wait until (say) the five minute mark, stir and try the second bowl of gumbo...any changes?  Last cup will be a total of eight to ten minutes...stir/etc.  Now, this is probably going to be too much file', but it will give you an idea of what it does...and you can adjust to your personal taste after getting more acquainted with it.  (the amount in the picture looks good)


   The flavors of plain file' powder?  It's a bit strange...(to me) it's like an earthy mix of a muted mint/thyme/must.  I've heard people describe it differently...it's a strange oneShocked

Dan
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rod Franklin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 September 2012 at 17:53
Hmm, I'm really glad I'm getting your input on this.  I don't have much experience with the stuff. How much would you use if you were to add it to a single serving bowl of gumbo? If I might, could I ask you to check out my seafood gumbo thread http://foodsoftheworld.activeboards.net/seafood-gumbo_topic2501.html and look at the picture I posted of the bowl of white rice with file powder sprinkled on it. Would you have used more than I did in that picture?

And using it as a condiment. How would you do that? I mean, what would you put it on? How much would you use?

Maybe I didn't dry it right or something, but the powder I have doesn't really have a lot of flavor. It's sort of green tasting, with something else, like just the very beginning of the flavor that the roots and bark has when tasted fresh. Maybe this very mild flavor is what it's supposed to taste like? How would you describe the flavor of file powder that you get?

I know it's a lot of questions, but if you wouldn't mind...

Hungry
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gonefishin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 September 2012 at 16:30
    Hi Rod!

   I wish I had a sassafras tree in my yard!  I had bought one online, but it didn't make it through winter.

    You can use file' powder in gumbo, stews, sauces and the like.  Remembering that it not only adds a nice earthy flavor to the dish, but also has thickening powers.  Just remember that you don't want to boil anything after adding file'. 
    You can also use it like a condiment at the table like hot sauce.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rod Franklin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 July 2012 at 19:40
Well, I got around to processing the leaves. I started with maybe 12 leaves and finally ended with less than one tablespoon of powdered leaves. Hmmm.

I haven't used it yet. Not really sure what I should do with it now that I have this little pile of green stuff. The twigs have a lot of flavor, the leaves not so much.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote africanmeat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 July 2012 at 08:41
Originally posted by Rod Franklin Rod Franklin wrote:

Well, if the tree wasn't so little I would pick some more leaves, dry them and mail you some. But the tree is only about five feet high and I already took as many leaves off of it that I feel comfortable with. It's possible that I might run into another tree in my woods ramblings though. If I do I'll pick some leaves for you.

I am not big in gardening but i remember that if you prune it it will grow bigger .
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rod Franklin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 July 2012 at 21:32
Well, if the tree wasn't so little I would pick some more leaves, dry them and mail you some. But the tree is only about five feet high and I already took as many leaves off of it that I feel comfortable with. It's possible that I might run into another tree in my woods ramblings though. If I do I'll pick some leaves for you.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Boilermaker Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 July 2012 at 18:28
Originally posted by Rod Franklin Rod Franklin wrote:


I was hoping for some savory uses and for some cantankerous Acadian to come in here and tell me it gets sprinkled on scrambled eggs or collards or goes well with alligator or something.  


Sorry,  All this cantankerous homesick Hoosier knows to do with it is make tea and now I can't even do that.  Having deep roots in Indiana my wife and I both have Miami Indian ancestry.  Our school served it us in grade school back in Indiana during the Pioneer Days celebrations and told us the whites were introduced to it by the Miami so I'm guessing it is traditional in the Midwest.

Damn white man discriminating against my ancestors, I think I'll sue, just kidding, but they still should have have left it alone.  
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rod Franklin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 July 2012 at 16:33
So, it's gumbo, tea and root beer and of course Ahrons BBQ sauce. That's it? Hmm. Seems there must be other things this flavoring/thickener would be used for, but what do I know? What would that flavor go well with? If I remember right, Sarsaparilla tastes like Pepto-Bismol. Maybe ice cream?

I was hoping for some savory uses and for some cantankerous Acadian to come in here and tell me it gets sprinkled on scrambled eggs or collards or goes well with alligator or something.  
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Boilermaker Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 July 2012 at 15:09
Brook,

We used to buy bags of shavings at the market when I was a kid.  My understanding is that is why it is no longer available, it is impossible to find.  We buy a sassafras tea concentrate here but it is not the same.  Damn nanny state.



From Wikipedia:

Culinary uses

The dried and ground leaves are used to make filé powder, an ingredient used in some types of gumbo.

The roots of sassafras can be steeped to make tea, and were used in the flavoring of traditional root beer until being banned for mass production by the FDA. Laboratory animals that were given oral doses of sassafras tea or sassafras oil that contained large doses of safrole developed permanent liver damage or various types of cancer. In humans, liver damage can take years to develop and it may not have obvious signs. Along with commercially available sarsaparilla, sassafras remains an ingredient in use among hobby or microbrew enthusiasts.

In 1960, the FDA banned the use of sassafras oil and safrole in commercially mass-produced foods and drugs based on the animal studies and human case reports.[11] Several years later, sassafras tea was banned,[11] a ban that lasted until the passage of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act in 1994.[12] Sassafras root extracts which do not contain safrole or in which the safrole has been removed are permissible, and are still widely used commercially in teas and root beers.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 July 2012 at 14:09
Is it something that is on the table with the salt and hot sauce?
 
If you cook it, file' powder becomes stringy and gelatinous, Rod. Usual method is to add it to the dish afterwards. That is, cook your gumbo, dish it up, and add file' to your liking.
 
Andy, I believe that info is out of date. There was one study that seemed to indicate sassafras was a carcinagen. But later studies couldn't duplicate the results.
 
Sassafras is a basic ingredient in root beer, btw. So if its use was banned it would have very widespread effects.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote africanmeat Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 July 2012 at 03:03
Hi Rod
i got a recipe for a good BBQ sauce with sassafras and coffee .
i will look for it tomorrow and post it  .
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Boilermaker Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 July 2012 at 23:19
I wish I had a sassafras tree.  We used to make sassafras tea all the time at home in Indiana when I was a kid but I now understand it is illegal to sell sassafras root as the government says it gave cancer to mice or some nonsense. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rod Franklin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 July 2012 at 19:08
I've identified a small Sassafras tree growing on my property here in Michigan. I picked a few branches and they are hanging in the kitchen. I will make File powder with the leaves as soon as they are dry.

Lot's of gumbo recipes out there on the internet, but I'm guessing this file powder gets used in ways outside of those popular ways found on the internet.

Is it something that is on the table with the salt and hot sauce? If you would, tell me how you use it.

I tasted it green and it has an interesting taste, like ginger but with something sweet about it.
Hungry
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