Okra: Steamed, Stewed, Frittered and Fried – Part 1

With okra in great supply over the past month, I have been making it in all kinds of ways, often combining it with corn and tomatoes. Some people object to the texture of okra, which can get gelatinous. I harvest my own, between 2-4 inches and cook it soon afterwards, and it’s not gooey at all.  I think the trick is to use very fresh vegetables and to prepare them quickly and simply, except in the case of gumbo.  This Part 1 covers some steaming, some stewing and some oven-frying. Future posts will cover gumbo, fritters and even pickles!

The earliest okra of the season was steamed, tossed into a slightly warm salad of red potatoes, corn, halved cherry tomatoes, chopped red and green peppers, and herbs, lightly salted and dressed with a little olive oil and white wine vinegar. Simple and seasonal.

We went on to make a light stew with tomatoes, sometimes with okra being added plain and other times oven-fried and added at the last minute to a tomato-based vegetable stew.

Oven frying is a cinch. The way I do it is to plunge the sliced okra into buttermilk and then toss it quickly in a light mixture of 50% finely ground corn meal and 50% flour, seasoned with salt and a little cayenne if you want it spicy. Place on a baking sheet coated with vegetable oil, stir to coat the okra and cook in a preheated 375-degree oven for about 10 minutes or until crispy, turning once or twice. You can roast the okra at a higher temperature as some recipes suggest, but it doesn’t always cook through and the coating turns into a rock.

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