Overflowing with okra

Carol Okra

Carol M likes to cook okra in a hot cast iron pan, no oil, just salt and a bit of garlic

The very hot September in upstate New York produced an abundance of okra at the farmers’ markets. Perhaps coincidentally, readers here and on Facebook have made lots of useful comments on my recent okra posts.

Susan F (I’m using initials because I asked none of these people for permission to quote them), a chef who lives in Saratoga, likes to sauté okra in bacon grease with “a heavy dose of granulated garlic and sea salt.” If you just have a little okra from your garden, she suggests you mix it in with some green beans and cook the same way. Laurel B makes okra “Indian style with garbanzos and tamarind, or spicy with corn and limas and tomatoes, or tossed with corn meal and stir fried with onion.”

For simplicity, Carol M likes unadorned okra rings which are charred on a cast iron skillet or a perforated sheet on the grill, no seasoning other than a little salt. And Phil F in Madrid cuts his okra into bite size pieces and fries it up with some olive oil.

Enough Already! “discovered roasting okra whole on high heat with o.o. coating, salt/pepper, produces a delicious product. Leave room between pieces to allow air circulation so the moisture evaporates, concentrating the flavor. Also the Mediterranean style with tomatoes (I add the roasted okra to a chunky quick cooked tomato sauce. Add lemon juice.) is delicious. p.s. This even works with frozen okra, surprisingly.” Her idea combined with Susan F’s was the inspiration for this delicious okra prep.

We also did some examination of the twin okra evils of woodiness and slime. You know if an okra is woody because it crunches when you cut into it. I had been in the habit of discarding these pieces assuming their toughness would infect the rest of my dish but this last time I simply sautéed them separately. And you know what? They cooked up as tender as the smaller pieces.

As for slime, Lynn T suggests that “if you cut the end of the okra but just above main part, leaving no air access, you don’t get the slime.” I tried this. The sides of the okra tend to open up during boiling, so out comes the slime. I suppose you could watch the okra like a hawk and take it out of the water when it’s just tender, but if you are averse to slime you should try one of the sauté methods, all of which are slime-free.

Of course, none of these preps will budge the okra haters of the world such as Carol W, who says, “not even the greatest chef in the universe can make okra something I can enjoy. I don’t know what it is – the texture, the basic flavor, I am not sure. but it makes me want to hurl.” To each her own.

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