One vegetable that has not melted in our summer’s sultry heat is okra. It thrives, or seems to like the horrid heat of late July down here in the south.
Okra stalks seem to stand proud with the tender pods boldly pointing upwards. The younger ones, about one to two inches in length, are just fine for slicing thin and eating in fresh salads or sautéing fast and adding to fresh green beans, even adding to vegetable tacos. Most pods are best when harvested immaturely, about 3 to 4 inches in length.
Okra has roots in southern cookery since the early 18th century when the slave trade introduce it to this soil and it has held strong in making for better conversation ‘round many tables. Just think of how many pots of gumbo that’s been made with it and how many smacking lips have enjoyed crispy fried okra.
The latter recipe is a little different, a Creole way and speaking of which, concerning okra there's an old Creole saying ‘never cook okra in a black pot (cast iron) lessens you want black okra”. Many older cookbooks tell you to use porcelain or agateware, the old blue and white pots when boiling, simmering or stewing, but today we have enameled ware or stainless steel.
1 pound fresh okra, cut into 1/2 inch slices
1 1/2 cups self-rising white cornmeal mix
1 teaspoon sugar
Salt and pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
Stir together cornmeal mix and next 3 listings in a separate large bowl.
Pour oil to depth of 1 inch into a large, deep heavy skillet or Dutch oven; heat to 375 degrees F.
Dredge okra in cornmeal mixture in batches, and place in a wire-mesh strainer. Shake off excess. Fry okra, in batches, 4 minutes or until golden brown, turning once. Drain on paper towels.
Note: Cornmeal mix is a ready mix consisting of cornmeal, flour and leavening. Look for it in your bakery goods area.
Sauterne Boiled Okra
2 pounds fresh young okra
Butter or olive oil
1 cup water
2 teaspoon Tabasco or red pepper hot sauce
2 cups Sauterne wine
2 teaspoons salt