I have a confession to make: I've never liked okra!
Being the veggie aficionado that I am, I cannot say that about many vegetables... But okra is different. It's not the taste that I object to, but the texture -- ah yes... the slime factor.
For the last two years I've looked at the gorgeous okra pods that appear every summer at my farmers' market and let out a big sigh... if only I liked okra!
Then, a couple of weeks ago, I spotted okra that wasn't green, but a beautiful burgundy color -- almost purple! I was seduced and without fear bought a bag full of them.
On the way home it hit me like a lightning bolt: "If I sliced the okra super-thin and fried it, surely it wouldn't be so slimy?" Well, I couldn't get into the kitchen fast enough to try.
As it turned out, cutting the okra in julienne slices was the most time-consuming part of this otherwise very easy recipe. Using a very sharp knife made the task not only easier, but also lessened the sticky substance that normally oozes out of these pods.
Instead of tossing the strips with the traditional cornmeal, I decided a bit of flour would be more appropriate. I wanted them to be delicate -- and that is exactly how they turned out! Crispy and still a bit chewy, with a delicate but unmistakable okra flavor, these shoestring fries were so addictive that Marc (my husband) and I devoured the whole plate in a blink!
I must say they make a fabulous Tapa or side dish for a sandwich or omelet, but now I'm working on creating more original recipes with them.
Mostly, though, I'm very grateful to these gorgeous pods for having seduced me! Now I just have to make up for lost time...
Cocktail pairing: Peach-ginger mojito.
Burgundy Okra Shoestring Fries
Active time: 30 min
1 lb (455 g) small, burgundy (or regular) okra pods - rinsed and patted-dry
1/4 cup unbleached white flour
sea salt to taste
sunflower or canola oil for frying
Step 1: Using a very sharp knife, cut each okra pod in half lengthwise. Then cut in 1/8" julienne strips. Place the okra slices in a bowl and sprinkle with the flour. Toss well until the okra slices are well coated with the flour and set aside.
Step 2: Heat a deep fryer to 375ºF (190ºC). When the oil is ready, place the okra slices in the basket, being careful not to overcrowd it and fry for 6 to 8 minutes until golden-brown. Remove from fryer, drain on paper towels. Sprinkle the okra fries with sea salt and serve immediately.
Cut okra in 1/8″ julienne strips.
Place the okra slices in a bowl and sprinkle with the flour. Toss well until the okra slices are well coated with the flour.
Place the okra slices in the basket, being careful not to overcrowd it, and fry for 6 to 8 minutes until golden-brown.
Here's another super-delicious and fun finger food: pan sautéed pimientos de padrón. They're also known as the "Russian roulette peppers", and for good reason!