Filé is a little different from the other spices. Filé or Filé powder is also referred to as the gumbo Filé sometimes. Filé is a herbal spice. It is made from the sassafras tree of North America. Botanically, this plant is also known as the Sassafras albidum. Almost every chef has loved this American production.
In the past, this spice was used by South American Choctaw Indians used this dry herb. They used Filé as seasoning. Some other views about Filé emerged from West Africa, where they used it in their stews and soups. They mainly used okra for this purpose which thickened their soup. And the word gumbo has been derived from the same thing.
Moreover, there are also few health concerns about Filé as people have claimed that it has a high amount of safrole. That’s why it was banned in most regions in the past. However, with the time research has proved, it is wrong.
What does Filé Look Like?
The Filé usually comes in khaki or olive green color. Since this herbal spice is in powdered form, that’s why it mostly resembles another powdered form of spices around the world. The structure of its powder has a high resemblance to turmeric powder. The only difference between both the spices is their color.
Where does Filé Come From?
Filé comes from the dry leaves of sassafras tree in terms of botany. However, regionally, Filé came from the Choctaw Indians, which is also stated above. They were the first people who used sassafras trees for culinary purposes. In the beginning, this spice was mainly used as a thickener. It was included in slow-cooked items like soups, which required thickener to provide a certain form of appearance. Besides, Choctaw Indians also used Filé as seasonings like normal salt and pepper. However, the Filé produced today is nothing like the old one. Because modern Filé spice is just made of Filé powder, while in old times, it contained both Filé powder and the okra, that’s why it was also known as the gumbo Filé.
How is Filé Made?
Since Filé is made from the leaves of the sassafras tree, the production process of this herbal spice begins with the tree plantation. It should be noted that this tree has a high amount of safrole. That’s why not all parts of this tree are edible. Therefore, we will only use its leaves for making Filé. You should start picking its leaves once the plant reaches a certain stage. Then, wash them well and put them on any paper and tray, and let the paper soak the water. Afterward, put the leaves under direct sunlight or use any heating dryer to dry the leaves. This process is the same as drying mint. Once the leaves are dried, you can use any grinder to transform the leaves into powder form.
What Does Filé Taste Like?
Filé powder has a very distinctive taste of root beer. In addition, it has a little earthy taste that resembles the taste of savory and thyme’s combination. Besides, Filé also has a very juicy fruit gum and eucalyptus-like scent.
How is Filé Used in Cooking?
Filé is highly used for culinary purposes around the world. In most recipes, it is merely used for thickening the food. You can slowly add the powder to your slow-cooked items and keep moving the spoon to let the powder mix well in the recipe. However, it is also added together with other spices to improve the taste and add a little aroma to the food.
What Types of Cuisines Use Filé?
Filé is used in numerous cuisines, especially African cuisines, because of its history. Some cuisines that include Filé powder are soups, stews, gumbos, jambalayas, Louisiana rice, seafood, and more. In some foods, it is just used as a seasoning. So, put it on the table and use it with any food you want to add a little spiciness and better flavor to your food.
What is a Filé Substitute?
If you are looking for alternatives to Filé, then we have them for you. You can use some of its substitutes like okra, roux, cornstarch, arrowroot powder, and eggplant. So, use them when you don’t have Filé.
Where to Buy Filé?
If you want to buy a high-quality Filé, you should not worry because we have picked some of the best Filé products. They have superior quality and exceptional flavor. These top products are listed below.