Okra is one of those vegetables. You know the ones I'm talking about. The ones that send a cold shiver up a lot of people's spines. Lima Beans, parsnips, beets, rutabagas. Usually those vegetables are preceded by the words, "You'd better eat those (vegetable of choice goes here) or no dessert!" Vegetables may go with a lot of things, but threats aren't one of them. Playing amateur shrink here, I can pretty much say with certainty that these vegetable aversions mostly come from childhood trauma. The biggest problem with okra can be stated in one 5 letter word. Slime. Ooooooooooo, scary okra!
Playing the Match Game with okra is a no brainer. Black, white, milk, cookies, okra....slime. No matter how I've tried to convince Alan to try some okra, it's always a big "no sale!" As a result as much as I love it, I never cook it. But here we are in the heart of summer and the okra is blooming and looks soooooo tempting at the farmers market. Who could blame me that I just lost control. I yielded to my baser instincts. I went for The Big O.
Yes, I'm weak and was thinking only of myself, and my okra pleasure. Alan was horrified but I promised him that when I'd finished with it, he'd enjoy himself too. Happy endings all around. So how do you get slime-less okra? Pretty easy as it turns out. The South Indians have the real trick with it. There are a couple of secrets. A hot, hot, hot pan, and dry, dry, dry okra.
Crispy Pan Fried Okra
Here's what to do:
Start off with a pound of fresh okra. Wash it and let it dry thoroughly. I put mine in a colander and set it out on the deck for a while.
Now that the okra is dry, cut off the little pointy caps and slice it into thin rings.
When the oil is hot toss in:
1 tsp of brown mustard seeds
4 dried red chili peppers
10 curry leaves
When the mustard seeds start to pop
1 cup of onion chopped fine
1 serrano chili split down the middle
Stir fry it all until the onion has softened.
Here's where the no slime trick comes in.
Turn the heat up to high.
Toss in the chopped okra
1/2 tsp of cumin
1/8 tsp of coriander
1/2 tsp of kashmiri chili or 1/4 tsp of cayenne mixed with 1/4 tsp of paprika
When the okras' browned toss in:
1 tsp of salt.
You are done and slime free. If this doesn't make an okra lover out of you, I don't know what will. So what are you waiting for? Go for The Big O, have a little Summer romance with okra. I won't tell.
And speaking of Summer, we've been hitting the Tuesday night Sonoma Farmers' Market every week. This is the one night of the week when the whole town comes out to The Plaza with their picnic baskets, folding tables, wine and snacks to enjoy some community spirit.
There's music and food