Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Big O...Or Okra Without Tears

   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.
 Put the sliced okra into a bowl and set it aside.
 In a large skillet or kadhai, heat 3 Tbs of vegetable oil.
 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
 Add in:
 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
 Keep everything moving and stir fry for about 2 minutes or so.
Toss in:
 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
 Keep stir frying until the okra browns around the edges lightly, about 15 or 20 minutes.
 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

 and scads of fresh fruit, vegetables
 and flowers from local farmers.
  Assorted strangeness
 Alan always brings his camera
Yours truly
 Winemaker Jacob who makes a killer Syrah
 Paula Wolfert, woman of mystery

 Our friend the Capitain
And a look at some of the other stuff that goes on around here every Tuesday night during the Summer.
So that's the way things have been going this Summer here in Sonoma. Coming up next, bottle gourd and badi, together forever. Follow along on Twitter @kathygori 


  1. Okra being my favorite veggie..can never get bored of eating it. And this version looks so simple and yum.

  2. Well I have okra at home, impulse pick up at the Farmer's Market...didn't know what to do with it till now.

  3. I live in DC and admittedly, we have a pretty good farmers market, but I would kill for yours!

  4. Okra curry is one of my favourites too. Yes, best way is to cook them dry. You can cook them with masala stuffing too - checkout...

  5. O! It's still a love-hate thing, depends on how it's made, and this seems like a love-one!

  6. I love okra so you had me from the letter "O". Great dish. : )

  7. As a girl from the deep south in the U.S., I grew up eating okra a couple of different ways...usually "stewed" with tomatoes and onions, or added whole to green peas, or fried. Thanks for the ideas for a new way to fix it.

  8. Kathy, steamed okra and a simple raw coco vinegar [the one I won] dipping sauce lightly seasoned with salt & pepper. Served with steamed basmati rice.

    Thanks for the okra love, Kathy!

  9. @Annapet,
    mmmmm sounds good, hadn't thought of that

  10. @Melanie Hundley,
    one of our best friends is fro the mountains of N.Carolina with was an okra revelation for him too



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