Easy, yummy okra. June 1, 2013Posted by ourfriendben in recipes, wit and wisdom.
Tags: cooking okra, easy recipes for okra, good recipes for okra, okra
Silence Dogood here. As a Southerner, I was raised with okra. I love okra, with its unique flavor, texture, and appearance. Like asparagus and artichokes, okra is a distinctive culinary delight, something to be savored. It was a shock when I moved to Pennsylvania and discovered that others didn’t share the love.
Admittedly, it’s hard to blame okra-haters when you see the typical choices: slimy boiled okra and dried-out, tasteless deep-fried okra slices. Nobody could love these! By contrast, perfectly fried whole okra, crispy on the outside and moist and flavorful on the inside, without a hint of slime, is incredible. So are some of the fabulous Indian okra dishes, sauteed and spiced to perfection.
But there’s an easier way to enjoy okra. I was amazed to discover dehydrated okra in a store in Lancaster County, PA, the very heart of Amish country. This was being sold as a snack food, alongside dehydrated green beans and veggie chips. What the bleep?! Amish and Mennonites snacking on dried okra pods?!! Well, of course I had to try them. And they were SO good!!! No wonder the Amish and Mennonites were hooked.
Unfortunately, Lancaster County is something of a haul from here, so once our friend Ben and I had devoured the bag of dried okra, we were okra-less. Frozen okra was out: The slime factor was too great. Our favorite source of perfectly fried okra pods, the Texas Steak House, had stopped carrying them, and I refuse to deep-fry anything, anytime, anywhere. Not that I turn my nose up at deep-fried foods, I love them, but I refuse to touch grease, much less that much grease. Eeewwwww!!!!
Still, I felt there had to be a solution. And when I saw that our local Kutztown, PA farmers’ market had gotten in a passel of fresh young okra pods, I determined to try one. I brought a bagful of tender young okra pods back to our cottage home, Hawk’s Haven, and got to work.
I washed the pods, patted them dry, and lined them up on aluminum foil on a baking tray. Then I drizzled them with extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkled them with Trocomare (a flavorful herb-salt mix, available in health-food and bulk-food stores) and fresh-cracked black pepper. I popped them into the oven at 325 degrees F. and let them roast about 15 minutes, then flipped them over. My goal was to create a browned, crispy exterior without drying out the interior.
Success!!! The unique okra flavor was preserved in a crispy exterior and tender interior, without a hint of slime. The pods were so addictive, I ate the entire trayful, then had to hastily make some more for OFB. Yum!!!
So go for it, okra lovers, while you can still get the fresh pods. And okra haters, please give it a try. If you think of okra as tasteless and slimy, you’re going to be in for a treat!
‘Til next time,