Hiya! Why don’t I talk about Okra?

So, it has been quite a while since I’ve posted.  My apologies.  I keep on feeling like ‘man, this is going to be the week.  All those posts I’ve been meaning to do are going to happen.’  And then something else happens- illness, double CSA distributions, house painting,travel, berry picking and canning, and I find that all of my pictures of lovely food gets backlogged in my camera, not even making it onto my computer.

Last week's CSA distribution. You can see why we might be busy...... tomatoes, squash, cucumber, beets, endive, kale, peppers, blueberries, melons, herbs, okra!

So, last week in our CSA share, we got okra.  I sort of can’t help but do a post about this really unique veggie/fruit.  I expect for us to see it maybe once more this season.  It is a unique item, and comes only in small quantities for Red Fire Farm’s CSA.  Though you can always go to the farm stand and buy a lot more- if okra is worth the trek to you. It certainly is for us.

Okra. Usually a southern treat.

So, what is okra?  Well it’s actually a seed pod of a plant from the mallow family.  What does this mean to you?  Probably not much.  But, what does matter is that inside each of these oddly shaped green beauties are little white seeds that are totally edible. What part do you eat?  You see the line that cuts perpendicularly across the pod?  You eat the pointy end, but not the tough stem above that line.

Okra with the stems cut off. Looking into the pods. A really pretty pod you must admit.

So, what does okra taste like?  Mmm…  it tastes fresh, verdant, and…. yeah, like okra, it is sort of in its own flavor class.  But the flavor is mild.   One thing for sure- okra has a very specific texture.  The outside is firm and fuzzy.  The stem has prickles.  But on the inside of the pod, it’s slimy.  Very slimy.  So slimy that is has been investigated as a potential lubricant (think machinery, not the other type :-).

Some people love the sliminess of okra.  Some hate it.  For those of you who hate it- avoid exposing the okra pod to water and heat at the same time.  In other words, you should ideally eat it fried, grilled, or pan-fried.

So, what can you do with okra?.. now that we’ve gotten to some preparation methods. Everyone loves it fried…. but if you want to experiment with other ways of eating okra, you can saute it, grill it, boil it, steam it, simmer it in a stew of tomatoes, and stirfry it.

Trimmed okra.

What do we normally do with it? Well, we normally eat it in succotash or with our Hoppin’ John Supreme, just pan-fried with some oil and creole seasonings. Here are some of our previous uses:

Succotash with Okra, corn, tomatoes, summer squash, and beans.

Hoppin’ John Supreme.  An amazing mix of beans, rice, peppers, bacon, okra, mayo, and well…. it’s just plaint good.  Good enough to have two posts about it…. Hoppin’ John Supreme Again.

Pickled Okra in this photo parade.  We pickle okra and eat it with lots of things:

With Spicy Flounder in Tomato Corn Soup in this Photo Parade.

With Jambalaya, a great southern stew.

This time, with lots of okra in our arsenal, we tried a few new ways of eating it.  One CSA member said they liked to eat it sautéed with garlic and balsamic vinegar.  This sounded way different from my normal southern=okra food schema, so I gave it a try! The result was pretty tasty.

Okra sautéed in garlic, oil and at the end a splash of balsamic. Served with a tiny bit of finely grated parmesan.

I also just tried sauteing it with onions, oil, and lastly paprika, which was also good.  Though it would have been better if grilled for this simple combination of flavors, in my opinion.

sautéed okra with paprika.

Lastly, I tried a nice Indian Okra curry, which was very tasty.  It utilized tomatoes and okra, two things in the seasonal kitchen, and was a wonderful way to use okra.

Blanched okra nestling down on top of a spiced tomato sauce.

I adapted a few recipes to come up with this one, which turned out very nicely.

Indian Okra Curry (serves 4): Note: this okra recipe results in okra associated sliminess. 

  • 2 pounds okra
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1 big onion
  • 1 tsp garlic
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 3 tomatoes
  • 1 dried chile
  • 2 tbsp of lemon juice,
  • ¼ tsp turmeric
  • 1/8 tsp cumin
  • 1.8 tsp coriander
  • 1/8 tsp ginger powder
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1.  Blanch okra- until the pods turn bright green.
  2.  Rinse with cold water.
  3. Drain and dry.
  4.  Trim off stems.
  5.  Saute onions, then garlic and ginger in oil for a few minutes.
  6.  Add dried chile and chopped tomatoes, spices, and stir well.
  7.  Bring to a boil, let simmer until tomato sauce gets thick, about 10-15 minutes.
  8. Add the okra, stir, cover and cook for about 5 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper and lemon juice.
  9. Serve with cilantro, and other lovely indian meal accompaniments, like cucumber raita.

I served mine with cucumber raita, dal, and potatoes fried with mustard seeds and turmeric.

Okra curry on the top left, dal on the right, fried potatoes on the bottom.

It was a lovely meal and a lovely use of okra. I would definitely do again, and I would even add more spiciness to the dish.

Now that everyone has probably already eaten the okra from their CSA share, I still hope that these ideas might come in handy down the road. Does anyone have another favorite way to eat okra that we haven’t covered?

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