If you ask a random sampling of people about their experiences with okra, you are likely to hear stories of a fantastic pot of Louisiana gumbo or a dish consumed at an Indian restaurant. Less often, you might hear about a deep fried, potentially battered, version often associated with Southern foods including fried chicken and BBQ. While the prime examples of fried okra are all about individually crunchy and greaseless bites of self contained okra flavor, it is the exact opposite quality that is brought to bear for a gumbo or stews popular in India and the Middle East. That quality is alternatively described as slimy or mucilaginous, and it is this gluey substance which okra releases that binds the dish and creates the unique texture of these types of dishes.
Here in the fall okra is abundant in our local markets and you do not need a deep fryer or a long cooked gumbo to produce great tasting results. We prefer the dry unrunniness of fried okra but do not have the inclination to set up a fry station in the apartment. In order to reproduce an acceptable non-slimy alternative you need an extremely hot cast iron pan, oil, okra sliced in ½ in rounds, and some attentive cooking. The key, like cooking a good burger or chicken breast, is to flip the okra just once deeply browning both sides.
As good as they are by their own, once they are removed from the pan feel free to add in an equal volume of corn freshly cut off the cob. Sauté till crisp-tender and mix with the okra.
How do you like your okra ? Or maybe not at all.
Share and preparation tips or recipes.