Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Great Big Okra Convention

 
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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

Serves 4
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.

13 comments:

  1. I am glad that the slime has been banished! I will now, always remember that okra must be fried! Thanks Charlotte!

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  2. wow. look at all those comments on your last entry. that's some pretty serious fried okra tough love, eh? *grin*

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  3. You did it! You did it! You cooked a fantastic okra dish and 9 out of 10 from Freddie? You can't ask for better results. The dish looks fantastic! Congrats Charlotte.

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  4. Robiewankenobie - It was tough love - okra needed to be mastered.
    Cynthia - it was the sun that did it. But I cant help thinking this tip is even more effective in Barbados!
    Holler - I can now officially recommend okra!

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  5. I haven't been able to get past the gumb-o characteristic of okra. Congratulations to Freddie on being a new food trier and getting past this one. Frying it must really improve upon the flavour and texture. I will have to give it a try myself!!!

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  6. Anonymous2:45 PM

    Congratulations!
    Glad the okra beast has been
    tamed and that Freddie enjoyed it.
    Did others in the family like it?
    We love okra and are happy when
    our tribe increases :)
    We've fried/sauteed it without
    sun-drying or oven-dehydrating,
    and there's never been slime
    in the end product;
    so it'll get easier with time.

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  7. Charlotte8:00 AM

    Valli
    You have to go through what marathon runners call the wall.Just when you seem like giving up, it works and the slime is banished...
    Anon
    Thank you - you are right. It getters easier with time. Learning to cook is slow and rewarding... even with slime

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  8. Well done!!! I love fried okra!!! YUM!!!

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  9. Hi
    I love Okra and unfortunatly not many people do! Loved the okra convention's ideas. I cooked some a while ago based on an Indian recipe, its easy and very yummy. I cut them lengthwise into thin slices, covered them in plain flour and fried them for couple of minuites, the add 1 tsp of Garam masala powder and a pinch of chilli. It really lush.
    Thanks for sharing the ideas.

    X Matin

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  10. Hi Freddie and Charlotte,
    I know you are already on to O, but I have just found the most amazing leek recipe for you - is it too late? Are you allowed to go backwards?
    Even my children, who have never knowingly eaten leeks before gave it the thumbs up!
    The recipe is from Simon Hopkinson and you can find it here:
    http://www.waitrose.com/recipe/Leek_Pie.aspx

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  11. Clare - its never too late to try.
    Thank you!
    I will look at this. When we move onfrom a veg we dont say goodbye for ever. We revisit old favourites

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  12. hi,
    i love your blog! i've been watching it for a while, getting new ideas. i've now enjoyed okra for the first time ever using this recipe. thank you!

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  13. Charlotte:
    If you are still checking the messages in reply to this post, I would recommend that you steam the okra in a steamer. Do NOT cut it.You can add flavour by making a light herb sauce with olive oil salt and black pepper and toss.

    For the record, I love the slimy taste. It is one of the signature ingredients in our national dish cou cou and flying fish.

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