Monday, August 16, 2010

Market Fresh: Okra

Okra is abundant in our garden at present. You can also find it at the Farmer's Market. It has never been a favorite vegetable of mine (it's a texture thing) but my husband loves it and, as we have discovered this sumer, so do our boys! I enjoyed it more this time than I ever have before - perhaps in part to these wonderful recipes (both of which happen to be by Alton Brown). If you have never tried okra or have had a past negative opinion, I encourage you to give these okra recipes a try.

I love how the cornmeal compliments the okra but doesn't overpower it. The textures work great together. I also like that is pan fried - not deep fried. Actually, these were just plain amazing - we couldn't get enough of these tasty pieces!



WET FRIED OKRA (Alton Brown)
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1 pound okra, stems removed
1/2 cup cornmeal
Vegetable oil, for frying
Kosher salt

Cut the okra into 1/4-inch pieces and place into a colander. Rinse under cold water and allow to drain only slightly.

Place the cornmeal into a sealable ziptop bag. Add the okra and shake to coat thoroughly.

Add enough vegetable oil to a cast iron or stainless steel skillet in order to completely cover the bottom of the pan. Place over medium heat and heat until the oil reaches 370 degrees F (when you put a drop of water in, it sizzles). Add the okra all at once and fry until golden brown on 1 side, approximately 6 to 7 minutes. Do not disturb until the bottom is golden brown. Turn the okra with a spatula and do not disturb until the majority of the other side is golden brown as well, approximately 3 to 4 minutes. Now stir occasionally until all of the okra is golden on all sides, approximately another 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the okra from the pan with a slotted spoon or spatula to a cooling rack set over a newspaper-lined sheet pan. Season, to taste, with salt and allow to cool for 1 to 2 minutes before serving.

My husband absolutely loved this dish and all of the boys declared, "Yum." I think it's definitely a keeper. The flavors are excellent - the texture of the okra bothered me a little cooked this way but the flavor contrast makes me overlook the texture.


OKRA & TOMATOES (adapted slightly from Alton Brown)
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1 pound okra, rinsed and trimmed
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 cups peeled and chopped tomato
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon freshly black pepper 
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom


Cut each okra pod in half lengthwise and set aside. If there are any pods longer than 4 inches, cut them in half crosswise and then lengthwise.

Heat the olive oil in a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onions along with the salt and cook until they begin to turn golden, approximately 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute longer. Add the tomatoes and bring the mixture to a boil. Decrease the heat to low and add the ginger, pepper, cardamom and okra. Stir to combine. Cook, uncovered for 20 minutes. Remove from the heat, taste and adjust the seasoning as desired. Serve immediately.