Sunday, January 23, 2011

23-365 Comfort food --- Okra

Today's the day for Kate's memorial so I've been hustling about getting ready for the "show" and yesterday I completed a major portion of my work project that's been eating my lunch. So last night was a night in for me 'n Vince. I have to say, I haven't felt this caught up and relaxed in weeks. We tossed steaks on the grill, sweet potatos in the oven, and one of my all time favorite comfort foods -- okra.

Now some folks have issues with okra, mostly when it's not cooked correctly (I've heard some people boil it. Shudder!) Ya got a fry it folks; you can batter it or just slice it up and toss it in a skillet with bacon grease but it MUST be fried. The way I was brought up was a bit of a hybrid.

So for y'alls cultural edification, here is one -- there are others -- authentic way to "fix" okra.

Start with fresh okra. If it has a few spots, that isn't a problem it and is more likely on organically grown produce anyway. Wash it.
Cut it up. Do NOT rinse it. It's supposed to be slimy on the inside and if you cook it right, the sliminess goes away. If you boil it, you get what you deserve.
You add two, and only two, ingredients -- salt and cornmeal. Sprinkle generously with both. By the way, southern food is generally salty. Had to do with eating meat preserved with salt, generally scraped from "the bottom of the barrel." That's where the phrase comes from. You're welcome.Fry it in a cast iron skillet. This recipe isn't a battered deep-fry but instead a pan fry. If you want to be authentic you'd use Crisco or the like but my only nod to general health is I now use Olive Oil. My granny would probably shake her head in dismay and worry that I'm not feedin' Vince right.

Make sure the skillet is hot before you add the okra.
Cook it over medium high heat, stirring regularly until the okra is bright green, the cornmeal is crispy, and some of the pieces are starting to look burnt. It isn't burnt, it's caramelized; that and the cornmeal are how you get rid of the slimy quality.

Da-umn that's good eatin'!


  1. I've seen okra at the supermarket and wondered about it. What's the flavor of it? (if you can describe it)

  2. I have never tried okra since I had heard about the slimy issue, but now I want a big bowl of it.

  3. A girl after my own heart! Love, love, love me some okra! And yes, southern food is salty... I blame my southern upbringing for my need to put salt on everything (even on the okra after it has been fried). Drives hubby crazy!