Tuesday, June 30, 2009
I just had a reminder of how we all come from all over the world.And what we sometimes think is a very common thing may not be to one of our friends.I remember sometimes back I mentioned grits thinking everyone knew what they were.Well everyone didn't.
Now I have had 2 dear friends ask me about okra. Every region has foods that are just known by everyone.And in the south okra is one of those like the grits that is well known in the south.Like fried green tomatoes.
Here is a picture and article I got off the internet. I was also asked what it tasted like and that is a littlle harder to explain. My favorite way to eat it is fried but I do keep a bag of chopped frozen that I add to soup. Eating it boiled is not for everyone as it is slimey when cooked whole. Wow I don't know how to describe the taste. I think people either love it or hate it.
Okra has been around a long time. It probably originated in West Africa and, from there, it covered lands far and near. Most likely okra came to the Americas with the slaves. It is very popular in the southern states.
Okra plants have a strong central stem with large green leaves. At the junction of each leaf stem a blossom will emerge and produce the okra pods. Given good conditions, okra can grow to a height of six or seven feet. It is definitely a warm weather crop.
Okra pods should be harvested when they are young and tender. A pod no more than four inches long is ideal -- any longer and they become tough although there are some varieties now with pods that remain tender up to about six inches in length. If okra is hard to cut with a sharp knife, its too tough for cooking.
If you are buying your okra, look for small, green pods. If the pods have a lot of black and brown spots on them, pass them by. Best place to find okra is at farmers market where fresh produce is brought in every day.
Frozen okra is okay for stews and gumbo, but the breaded okra for frying is at best a poor substitute for the real thing.
Its not a lot of trouble to work with fresh okra. First thing when you get your okra home is to wash it in cool water. Dump it in a sink of cool water or large bowl. Swish it around to remove any debris. Drain it in a sieve.
You cut the stem end off all the pods. On the small pods, you can leave the small end or tail. The tail gets tough on larger pods.
Classic Fried Okra
Cut the okra pods into half-inch slices -- about two cups of slices for this recipe.
To a cup of buttermilk, add a half-teaspoon of garlic powder, a half-teaspoon of onion powder, a teaspoon of salt, and a half-teaspoon of black pepper.
Put about a half-cup of flour in a brown bag. Dip the okra slices, a few at a time, in the buttermilk, and then drop them in the flour bag. Shake until they are coated with the flour.
Fry in deep fat until golden brown.
Fried Okra Raven Style
• 2 cups okra slices
• 1 egg, well beaten
• Salt, black pepper and a touch of cayenne, to taste
• Yellow cornmeal
Beat the egg with the salt, pepper and cayenne in a large bowl. Add the okra slices and stir until all are coated with egg. Slowly add the cornmeal and mix until the slices start to stick together. Deep-fry the clumps of three or four slices until golden brown. Drain on paper towel or in a brown paper bag. (If you are cooking a large quantity, put the bag in a good-sized warm pot. That way you get the grease drained off and keep the okra warm all in one operation.
Boiled or "stewed" okra can be a delicate subject. When okra is boiled it gets mighty slick. Some folk just cant abide the texture, although the taste is great. I think a couple of tablespoons of vinegar might cut down on the slickness. Using whole baby pods about two inches long works best for boiling. Season with a little bacon grease and salt and pepper.
Lots of folk like their okra pickled. Its an easy process if you want to try it.
• 2 quarts of water
• 1 cup canning salt
• 1 quart apple cider vinegar
Boil this mix for ten minutes.
Pack baby okra in suitable canning jars. To each jar add a Jalapeño pepper, a clove of garlic, and a bit of fresh dill weed. Pour the hot brine over the okra and seal. Let it set a couple of weeks to come to full flavor.