From Too Many Chefs - www.toomanychefs.com

August 23, 2006
Okra-at-homa

Today was the day the Northern boy cooked okra. I don't think I'd ever eaten this Southern and African staple before. I had thought i'd had okra, but now I'm not so sure. Or, if I had, it was a prepackaged mess that was cooked within an inch of its life, and nothing like the real fresh article prepared in your own kitchen.

I bought fresh okra from the farmstand. I've been told that in matters of purchasing okra, size matters, but in this case you want small okra rather than the big personal self-defense size you sometimes see. The big stuff is just too tough.

What turns most people off of okra is the goop that oozes from it when cut. If you refrigerate your okra (not freeze, but refrigerate), you'll slow the goop down a bit, but basically you're going to have to learn to deal with it if you want to enjoy this vegetable. The goop is actually very useful if making a stew or gumbo as it helps to thicken the liquid up. And once fried, the goop just isn't a factor.

How's this taste? Great. It's a little chewy, which I like (if you don't, cook your okra longer), and has a lot of good flavor. Some recipes call for soaking the cut okra in salt water for a significant period of time before drying and frying. I'll try that next time, but I'm not unhappy with the unsoaked vegetable.

Wash and dry a pint of okra. Cut the tops and tails off each pod and discard. Slice the okra 1/4"-1/2" thick on the bias. Place the cut okra in a big bowl. Pour 1/2 cup of whole milk or half and half over the okra.

In a separate bowl, add a cup of corn meal, two teaspoons of garlic powder, a generous pinch of salt, a grind of black pepper, and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Mix well.

Drain the milk off the okra. Stir the cornmeal mix into the bowl of okra pieces.

Heat enough peanut oil in a nine inch skillet over medium-high heat. You want hot, but not smoking oil. Gently place the okra pieces into the oil, stirring to separate and to get each piece coated with hot oil. Fry for about five-eight minutes, or until the okra takes on a golden brown color. Drain, blot, and serve. Serves two.

Posted by Barrett in Maryland at August 23, 2006 7:57 AM
Comments

The above recipe is definitely a great way of cooking okra leading it to be less gooey. However the Africans do not use the double peppering as used in the recipe.

Okra turns out to be less gooey when it is washed and then cut. Stir-fried okra turns out to be less gooey than the stewed okra.

Alternately you can also wash brittle okras cut off its head and tail and cook it whole in a homemade gravy. Stuff wholesome, but slitted okra with crushed peanuts and then go on to bake or shallow fry them.

Posted by Esther on August 23, 2006 at 9:28 AM

I really like the stuffed okra idea. I may have to try that. Peanuts and okra just sound right together.

Would it work with a mix of peanuts and nut butter, do you think?

Posted by barrett on August 23, 2006 at 10:29 AM

Only thing missing is the buttermilk fried chicken and mashed potato's.
Never soaked it in milk, but it sounds like it would be great... lots of black pepper to go w/ the red pepper. and then fry till it is brown and crispy.
In New England it is very hard to get fresh Okra,, have to go home to Tenn. to get it.

Posted by gino on August 23, 2006 at 12:32 PM

Mmmm...I love fried okra. You know what's good with it? A mayo-pepper sauce. Nothing like adding fat to fat to up the flavor!

Posted by Anne on August 23, 2006 at 2:05 PM

Mmmm...I love fried okra. You know what's good with it? A mayo-pepper sauce. Nothing like adding fat to fat to up the flavor!

Posted by Anne on August 23, 2006 at 2:05 PM

MMMM, just reading this one makes me hungry for some okra! I was born in Arkansas, and of course fried okra is a staple down there. But for the past 15 years I have lived in Maryland, and those northerners don't know what they are missing!! Can't wait to try out a fried okra recipe.

Posted by Rhuarc on August 23, 2006 at 10:13 PM

Hi Barrett,
A mix of peanut butter and peanuts would make it just awesome...great idea.

Posted by Esther on August 24, 2006 at 1:19 AM

This sounds really good, Barrett. When we have okra, we always chop it into coins and stirfry it with onions, whole dried chillies and Indian spices until there are no more oozy bits. I love how chewy okra gets when cooked that way.

I'm afraid that I just can't get past the ooze of okra in gumbo or when it's what I consider undercooked.

-Elizabeth

Posted by ejm on August 25, 2006 at 3:51 PM

My favorite way of frying okra is with eggs. Whisk for an omelete, stir in okra, and season to taste.
Miss my okra plants and no one here in west central Indian likes them.

Elise

Posted by elise on August 25, 2006 at 3:58 PM

My favorite way of frying okra is with eggs. Whisk for an omelete, stir in okra, and season to taste.
Miss my okra plants and no one here in west central Indian likes them.

Elise

Posted by elise on August 25, 2006 at 3:59 PM

Love to read your post!Okra is one of the veggies which is a part of our meals-cooked almost like a stir fry, subtly spiced and paired with unleavened Indian flat bread and "dal"-it tastes good!

http://saffronmacenutmeg.blogspot.com/2006/05/with-temperatures-soaring-to-all-time.html

Posted by Veenu on August 27, 2006 at 2:58 AM

Okra is so good ! Down here in South Carolina we call it "okrie". :)

Posted by Paul on August 30, 2006 at 8:29 AM

I remember my grandmother frying the okra with cornmeal. It did not really coat it all but I think it was great. I don't think she used any type of dairy to coat the okra first. If anyone has any suggestions on how she may have fixed it I would appreciate the recipe.

Posted by Martha on September 20, 2006 at 11:35 AM

I'm from Maryland and developed a taste for fried okra from my grandmother who used to grow it in her back yard when I was a kid. In my family, we cut it into coins, coat it with butter milk and then dredge the okra in a cornmeal flour mixture that's seasoned with salt and pepper. Fry until crisp.

Posted by Aquilla on July 23, 2007 at 5:11 PM