Okra

Okra is low in calories, very high in dietary fiber, and a great source of vitamin A, vitamin C, B vitamins and the phytonutrients glutathione, xanthin, lutein and beta carotene.  

 

HOW TO MINIMIZE THE SLIMINESS IN OKRA WHILE COOKING:

It is the interaction with liquid that makes the insides turn slimy, so the trick is to minimize the okras contact with water and other liquids. There are a couple of ways to do this.

Wash and wipe dry the okras thoroughly before slicing it.

You can blanch the okra for 3-4 minutes and drain and dry the okra thoroughly before slicing it. After slicing the okras don’t add it to the dish until the very end, so as to minimize moisture contact. For example, you could stew some tomatoes, onion and eggplant until done and then add the blanched, dried and sliced okra just before serving.

Another way is to sauté or shallow fry it, which sort of cauterizes the okra. This is the method used in Indian dishes. Wash the okra, dry thoroughly and then slice and fry in a small amount of very hot oil. Remove it from the oil and set aside while you prepare the rest of the dish. Add the okra to the recipe at the very end.

Don’t cut the okras in very small pieces.

Use of sour ingredients cuts down the slime. In India, sour ingredients like tamarind paste, dried mango powder, curds, lemon juice, kokum(a fruit found in India) are used.

TO STORE OKRA:  Refrigerate okra in a paper bag or wrapped in a paper towel in a perforated plastic bag.

 

OKRA FRIES

1 lb. okra
Approximately 2 quarts canola oil, for frying
1 tsp. garlic salt, plus more to taste

Julienne okra lengthwise, cutting it into thin strips about the width of shoestring fries. In a stockpot or deep fryer, heat canola oil over medium-high. Once the oil reaches 350 degrees, add the okra in small batches, taking care not to crowd the pot. Using a skimmer or tongs, gently turn the okra to ensure even cooking. Fry 2-3 minutes or until the okra is lightly browned, and then remove it to a paper towel using a skimmer or slotted spoon. The okra should be crispy but not dark. Once the paper towel has soaked up some of the excess oil, place the hot okra in a bowl and toss with salt.  Serve hot.

 

ROASTED OKRA

Serves:  4

 

1 pound okra

Salt to taste

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Fresh thyme leaves to taste (optional)

Freshly ground pepper

 

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Rinse the okra, and drain on a kitchen towel. The okra should be dry. Trim away the stem ends and the tips, just the very ends, and then place the okra in a large bowl. Salt to taste, and toss with the olive oil until coated.

Lift the okra from the bowl, leaving behind any excess oil. Place on a sheet pan in one layer. Roast in the oven for 15 minutes (large okra might take a little longer), shaking the pan every five minutes. The okra should be lightly browned and tender, with a nice seared aroma. If you don’t want it to brown as much, set the oven at 400 degrees.

Remove from the heat, toss with fresh thyme, if desired, and freshly ground pepper. Transfer to a platter. Serve hot.

 

SHRIMP GUMBO

Serves:  6

1 cup butter (2 sticks), plus 1 tablespoon 

3/4 cup all-purpose flour 
1 chopped yellow onion 
1/2 cup chopped celery 
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper 
2 cloves garlic, minced 
4 cup sliced fresh okra 
3 cups shrimp stock 
2 cups bottled clam juice 
1 cup chopped canned tomatoes with juice 
3 bay leaves 
1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes 
1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning 
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves 
1 teaspoon dried basil leaves 
1/2 teaspoon finely ground black pepper 
1 1/2 cups cooked smoked sausage, sliced diagonally 
2 pounds shrimp, cleaned and deveined 
Cooked white rice

 

In a large heavy saucepan, over low heat, melt 1 cup of the butter. Add the flour, and cook on low heat until the roux is dark brown; about 30 to 45 minutes, stirring constantly. *Cook’s Note: Brown does not mean burnt; if you burn the roux you have to throw it out and start over again.

Add the onions, celery, peppers and garlic and sauté until translucent.

Mix in the okra and the remaining ingredients, including the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter, and simmer over medium-low heat until thick, about 1 hour. Before serving, remove the bay leaves. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve over white rice.

 

CHICKEN AND OKRA CASSEROLE

Serves:  6

 

1 pound okra

Salt

1/2 cup red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 small chicken, cut up into 8 pieces, skinned if desired

1 large or 2 smaller onions, cut in half lengthwise then thinly sliced across the grain

1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper, mild chili powder or smoked paprika

4 garlic cloves, puréed with a pinch of salt

1 pound tomatoes, seeded and grated; or peeled, seeded and chopped

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1 tablespoon tomato paste diluted in 2/3 cup water

Juice of 1 lemon

Freshly ground pepper

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Plain thick yogurt for serving (optional)

 

Trim the stems from the okra, and place them in a large bowl. Salt generously, douse with the vinegar, and let sit for 30 minutes to an hour while you prepare the other ingredients and begin cooking the dish. Toss from time to time.

Heat half the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large lidded skillet or casserole. Brown the chicken in batches. Set the chicken aside in a bowl. Drain off excess fat from the pot and discard. Turn the heat down to medium, and add the remaining olive oil and the onions. Cook, stirring, until they begin to soften, about three minutes. Add the coriander seeds and Aleppo pepper (or chili powder or paprika), and stir until the onions are tender, about two minutes. Add the garlic, and stir for about 30 seconds until fragrant. Add the tomatoes and sugar. Cook, stirring often, until the tomatoes have cooked down slightly, about 10 minutes. Stir in the dissolved tomato paste, and bring to a simmer. Add salt to taste. 

Return the chicken pieces to the pot, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes.

Drain the okra, and rinse thoroughly. Add to the pot with the chicken, arranging the okra on top of the chicken pieces. Add the lemon juice, cover the pan and simmer for another 20 to 25 minutes. The chicken should be cooked through, and the okra should be just tender.

If you wish, remove the chicken to a platter. Stir the okra into the sauce, and add the parsley. Add salt and pepper to taste, then spoon over the chicken and serve. Alternatively, stir everything together in the pot, season, and serve with rice or bulgur. Pass thick plain yogurt for topping.

 

OKRA AND CORN MAQUE CHOUX

Serves 8

1/4 pound spicy smoked sausage, diced 
1/2 cup chopped sweet onion 
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper 
garlic cloves, minced 
3 cups fresh corn kernels 
1 cup sliced fresh okra 
1 cup peeled, seeded, and diced tomato (1/2 lb.) 
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste 

Sauté sausage in a large skillet over medium-high heat 3 minutes or until browned. Add onion, bell pepper, and garlic, and sauté 5 minutes or until tender. Add corn, okra, and tomato; cook, stirring often, 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

 

SAUTÉED OKRA, TOMATOES AND ONIONS

Serves:  4

 

3 to 4 cups fresh okra, sliced

1 large ripe tomato, chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

2 to 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

Sea salt, to taste

 

Heat oil in heavy-bottomed, large skillet over medium heat  Add chopped onion and garlic, and sauté until onion is translucent and soft.  Add okra and tomatoes and sauté until okra is al dente (tender yet firm).  Season to taste with salt.  Serve over rice, quinoa, or just enjoy it all by itself!

 

MEDITERRANEAN OKRA AND TOMATO STEW

Serves:  4-6

 

2 pounds small okra

Salt

1 cup red wine vinegar

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 medium onions, cut in half lengthwise then sliced thin across the grain

3 to 4 garlic cloves (to taste), minced

1 pound tomatoes, preferably plum tomatoes, seeded and grated,or else peeled, seeded and chopped; or 1 14-ounce can, with juice

Freshly ground pepper

1 tablespoon tomato paste diluted in 1/2 cup water

1 teaspoon ground allspice

1 teaspoon sugar

2 to 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, to taste

1/4 cup finely chopped parsley

 

Trim the stems off the okra, and place in a large bowl. Salt generously, douse with the vinegar and let sit for 30 minutes to an hour. Drain the okra, and rinse thoroughly.

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large, lidded skillet or casserole. Add the onions. Cook, stirring, until tender, about five minutes. Add the okra, and cook, stirring, for about three minutes until the edges begin to color. Add the garlic, stir together for about half a minute until fragrant. Stir in the tomatoes. Bring to a simmer, and cook, stirring often, until the tomatoes have cooked down a bit and smell fragrant, about 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Stir in the dissolved tomato paste, allspice and sugar. Add water if necessary to just cover the okra. Bring to a simmer, cover and reduce the heat to low. Simmer 45 minutes until the okra is very tender. Add the parsley and lemon juice, and simmer another five minutes. Taste and adjust salt. Remove from the heat, and serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

 

SWEET & SPICY PICKLED OKRA

1 pound fresh okra, trimmed and washed

1/4 Cup salt

Water as needed

1 cup sugar

1 1/2 cups white vinegar

1 cups water

2 tablespoons Louisiana hot sauce

1/2 tablespoon cayenne pepper

4 cloves garlic, sliced in half

 

Place okra in a container, add salt and top with cold water until covered. Refrigerate for 48 hours before draining liquid (do not rinse). In a large pot, add sugar, vinegar, water, hot sauce and cayenne and bring to a boil.

Fill glass canning jars with the okra, packing vertically into each jar and dividing the cloves of garlic evenly between jars. Pour the hot pickling liquid over the okra, filling to the rim. Cover jars and refrigerate for at least 48 hours to complete the pickling process. Pickles will keep in refrigeration for up to one month.

PAN-ROASTED CORN AND OKRA

Serves: 4

6 ears of corn, shucked

1/4 cup vegetable oil, plus more for brushing

2 pounds okra, trimmed and halved lengthwise

Sea salt

 

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the corn just until tender, about 3 minutes. Drain and cool under running water. Pat the corn dry and, working over a bowl, cut the kernels from the cobs.

Heat a large cast-iron skillet or griddle until very hot and brush lightly with oil. In a bowl, toss the okra with 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil and season with salt. Cook the okra in batches over high heat, turning once, until charred and tender, 3 minutes per batch. Transfer the okra to a platter.

Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to the corn kernels, season with salt and toss to coat. Add the corn to the skillet and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until lightly charred in spots, about 3 minutes. Add the corn to the okra and toss. Serve hot or at room temperature.

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