Thursday, September 13, 2007
The Great Big Okra Convention
I read through the comment box, and scoured the internet message boards. Message boards are the modern day equivalent of gathering round the campfire to chat. A man called Norm popped up in a box on the Martha Stewart community message board, telling me how his mom used to cook okra. Your suggestions came thick and fast. And this was the consensus on my new best friend, okra:
1. Buy small and fresh (I know my first lot looked rather ill)
2. You must fry them.
3. Bread them, then fry.
4. Coat in cornmeal, then fry.
5. Soak in buttermilk, then fry.
6. Embrace the slime and make a gumbo.
7. Oil and roast them.
8. Spice them and fry.
9. Sauté them.
10. Deep fry them.
I get the message. OKRA NEEDS TO BE FRIED. I did offer Freddie the gumbo option and he turned it down. Armed with this collective wisdom, I have now followed the path to zero slime. The most intriguing tip had been emailed by Cynthia who lives in Barbados. She advised me to lay out my cut okra on a baking sheet and let them dry for an hour in the sun. London can’t compete with sunny Barbados but I followed Cynthia’s advice, shunting my baking tray around our tiny patio in the weak September sunshine.
Last night I served what is our fourth okra dish. But it is the first that I have been proud enough to blog about. I turned round to fetch a jug of water and by the time I had come back, the okra had all but disappeared.Freddie scored this 9 out of 10. Can I hear the lady’s fingers around the world, coming together and clapping? Thanks to the Great Big Okra Convention, okra is no longer a pariah. The slime is banished. Thank you!
Fried spiced Okra
450g fresh okra
1 egg, beaten
3 tbsp of olive or vegetable oil for pan frying
Half a cup of flour
Half a teaspoon of smoked paprika
Half a teaspoon of mild chilli powder
Half a teaspoon of coriander powder
A generous pinch of salt and some ground pepper
Wash and slice the okra into 1 cm pieces. Dry with paper towels. Lay out on a baking tray in the sun, if there is any. (Some people suggest placing them in an oven at a low heat for 10 minutes to dry out) Beat an egg in a wide-rimmed bowl. Season the flour with paprika, chilli and coriander powders and some salt and pepper. Dip the okra in the egg, then coat in the seasoned flour and pan fry in hot oil until crisp and golden brown.