Loving the Lowly Okra -- recipes?
- ChristinaMason Oct 12, 2011 10:27 AM
I've only just recently caught on to all the wonderful ways okra can cooked besides being deep fried (hey, I went to college in the South). Okra seems to be something of a nutritionist's dream---high in soluble and insoluble fiber and very low in calories, too!
Do you like okra? What are your favorite preparations? Do you have a recipe you can share?
Pickled Okra is my fave but I also slice it into 1/2 " slices, roll it in cornmeal with some Cayenne mixed in and pan fry it in an iron skillet.
I love the okra preparations I've had at Indian restaurants - generally involving tomato and onion with lots of combined herbs and spices. Other than that I am pretty unfamiliar with it. I bought a packet of dried sliced okra on a whim. Included it in ordinary vegetable soup with sausage. I liked that use, so I bought some fresh okra at a local farm but did not know at the time that the pinky-finger sized ones are the best. So I bought mostly large ones, which didn't tenderize evenly in the next pot of soup. When they say insoluble fiber, they mean it! The slices broke down but left chaff-like bits of skin. The soup version of Prairie Home Companion's infamous cereal, Raw Bits.
My absolute favorite method is to slice it or split it lengthwise, toss in olive oil and s&p, and broil it. With fresh-from-the-garden okra, this is tops.
I'll fry it once or twice a summer just for kicks. Pickled is good (it freezes well also).
Of course it is essential for gumbo. It also makes a great soup (try it with black eyed peas)
It is great in any kind of stew, so look for Greek/Mediterranean/Middle Eastern/North African recipes, such as my first link:
Another favorite, a salad:
I adapted something I saw on a cooking show several years ago (no idea who), for a quick stir fry of shrimp (or chicken) with okra, fresh hot chilies, garlic, ginger, fish sauce (or soy sauce), plus anything else I fancy (onions, fermented black beans)... The "secret" is to do a quick stir fry on the sliced okra and sprinkle very lightly with a tiny bit of sugar just at the point the okra wants to get sticky, then dose liberally with lime juice. Stir back in with your other ingredients. I think I made it sound way more involved than it is, but the method makes okra delicious without frying.
I love okra. Obviously it is a natural in gumbo or stewed with tomatoes and bacon in a Creole sauce. I've also taken to pickling okra okra in a coriander and habanero brine.
But if you want to go beyond our shores, looking up recipes for bhindi will expand your horizons to India and the dead simple okra curries that are popular there. Typically I make mine by frying cumin seed, ground coriander and turmeric with the usual onions and ginger-garlic paste, then adding the okra and chilies and finishing off with lemon juice or amchoor powder and garam masala. Sometimes I'll also add chopped tomatoes if they're in season. The spicy, sweet and sour taste is irresistable and it all comes together in under 30 minutes.
If I feel like something a little more substantial, I make the Arab stew known as bamia. It is popular across the Middle East and has variations with and without meat. My preference is to season the tomato-based sauce with plenty of garlic, allspice, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, coriander, cardamom, bay leaf and chili and use it to braise lamb stew and then the okra until both are tender. Finishing the stew with lemon zest gives the sauce a vibrant flavor, though you could also use sumac and alter the seasonings to your taste. It is very forgiving (and terrific with dilled rice and lima beans).
Years ago, my niece brought her roommate to visit for a couple days. Her roomie was from India, and she offered to cook dinner for us. Okra was one of the side dishes.
She heated up a skillet and tossed in some whole cumin seed and whole mustard seed, let them toast a little till they popped and crackled a bit, added olive oil, powdered garlic and ginger, and 1/2' slices of okra. She stir-fried it till it got a little crunchy, and that was it.
I've used that same recipe for plain old frozen vegetables to have with dinner, and it really makes them special without taking any time.
Julienne (cross-sectionally), then stir-fry with some diced garlic, vinegar, white pepper and a bit of chicken broth.
I only recently 'discovered' okra and really enjoy it. My two fave preparations are simple - prep as described by valadelphia (split lengthwise, toss with olive oil, S&P) then I grill in a grill basket. And this recipe for pan roasted okra with corn from The Bitten Word. I add in shishto peppers if I have them: http://www.thebittenword.com/thebitte...
These are fantastic ideas, thank you. I've copied them down.
I'll share a recipe that got me on the okra kick in the first place, a Caribbean- inspired stew with black eyed peas and kale: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/traci-bs...
It's very good, although the spices should be increased slightly. A pinch of hot pepper or hot sauce is a good addition, too. It tastes better the next day when all the flavors have melded. I made mine with frozen black eyed peas instead of canned.
I saute it with onions, garlic, olive oil. Cook awhile then add a can of rotel (drained) and S&P. Let it cook down and caramelize. I've even had a couple of okra-haters who liked this way because there's no slime at all.
Another way to do it is to go ahead and put the juice from the Rotel in and keep it kind of soupy and then serve it over cornbread.
My favorite recipe is one from Madhur Jaffrey's "World Vegetarian". It's called something like "okra cooked in an Australian manner", but the ingredients are more Asian - garlic, chiles, soy sauce, sesame oil. You stir fry the (whole) okra with garlic and chiles on high heat for a couple of minutes and then cook on low heat until the okra is tender.
I adore okra and don't mind the mucilaginous quality at all. One of my favorite preparations is the way my mom used to make it. Blanch small whole okra until tender-crisp, then drain immediately. Dump a cup or two of ice over it in the colander, and mix with your hands until the ice is melted. Drain thoroughly, dump in a bowl, and sprinkle cider vinegar and salt over this. I eat these with my fingers; civilized people use forks.
Once I went to a you-pick farm and got a bunch of vegetables- I think I was a farmer in a previous life, once I get to picking I can't stop. Anyway, I got some wonderful okra and tomatoes. Chopped the tomatoes (with skin and seeds, that's how we roll), put them in a pan until they were almost boiling, tossed in a lot of thin-sliced okra, salt, lots of pepper, and some fresh-cut basil and heated once again to a bare simmer just until everything was hot.
It was heavenly, just heavenly.