Gumbo filé (pronounced "FEE-lay") is a spice used in traditional Louisiana Creole cooking, particularly in the preparation of gumbo, a stew-like dish made with seafood or meat, vegetables, and a roux-based sauce. Gumbo filé is made from ground sassafras leaves and is typically added to the dish near the end of the cooking process.
In addition to adding a unique flavor to gumbo, gumbo filé also acts as a thickener, helping to give the dish a slightly thick and silky texture. Gumbo filé is often used in combination with other seasonings such as cayenne pepper, garlic, and onion to create a complex and delicious flavor profile.
Gumbo filé has a long history in Louisiana Creole cooking and is an important part of the region's culinary heritage. It is widely available in specialty food stores and online, and is an essential ingredient in any authentic gumbo recipe.