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I will not ever never eat an okra

June 18, 2011

crispy okraI’m standing in my kitchen slicing okra into julienne strips with my sharpest knife.  The hated mucilaginous juices stick to my fingers and the knife in strands. Shudder.  I like food – nearly all food – but this slimy vegetable is on the short list of things I never want to eat:

  • okra
  • mulokhia (slimy spinach much-loved in the Levant)
  • stewing meat that has the gelatinous globules of fat or gristle still attached (I was made to eat this at school by the nuns)
  • brains
  • tripeSpoof book cover

It’s a texture thing and even writing this down has me pulling faces.

So I didn’t jump for joy when some delicate little green claws of okra, fresh and slightly furry, arrived in my Bumble Box veg box.  This was a challenge.

Resisting the urge to chuck the whole lot in my Bokashi, I asked about a bit:

‘Cook it for a long time and all the sliminess goes.’ Hmmm, I’ve heard this one before – so how come when I’ve tasted it in an Asian curry it’s shiver-makingly glue-some?

‘Pan fry with some spices.’ This was sounding more like it.

And the best one (Eat, Write, Think) ‘Indians love okra and no one ever complains of it being slimy… it’s the way it is a very karmic way of thinking.’ I LOVE this suggestion but I’m too impatient for meditation!

I turned to a recipe by a writer who sounded like she had as deep-seated an aversion to this loathsome veg as I do – Tamasin Day Lewis.  Her recipe coats shreds of them in spices and gram flour and deep fries the mucus into oblivion.

Okra preparation

Did it work? Yes – no slime at all.  Were they nice? Well you know that addictive thing about deep-fried stuff?  You take a morsel and think ‘hmmm, that’s ok’ and then another and another.  The multi-layered spices mean you may get a taste of ginger,  or the sweetness of some onion and you are left with a slightly salty, warm taste.  I might add a finely sliced chilli next time (wow, I’m thinking about next time!)   These make a very nice nibble with drinks (like cassava chips are) or a crispy garnish for soup or even a vegetable crouton-like sprinkle over salads.

Okra and a glass of wine

Akri Bhindi or crisp okraadapted from a recipe by Tamasin Day-Lewis in Good Tempered Food

Ingredients

255g fresh okra
50g onion
25g red or green peppers or a combination
about 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, cut into thin strips
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
a pinch of asafoetida
.75oz/20g salt
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder (or a little more to taste)
20g chickpea (gram) flour
20g cornflour
a little fresh coriander, finely chopped (optional)
Vegetable oil for deep frying

crisp okra

Method

Cut the okra, onions and peppers into thin strips (julienne).  Add the dry spices, ginger, chickpea flour and corn flour, and mix well to coat.

Use a deep fat fryer or fill a pan one-third full with vegetable oil.  Heat the oil, and test that it is hot enough by dropping a bit of the mixture in. If it fizzes and starts to brown immediately, carefully add some of the vegetables.  Do not add all at once or the pan could bubble over. Fry, in batches if necessary, until crisp and brown all over.  Drain on kitchen towel. Sprinkle with the finely chopped coriander. Serve.

crispy okra

I bet this is the only okra recipe sent to Fabulicious Food for her fab seasonal round-up of recipes. Do you have a non-slimy okra recipe that you’d like to share?  And what’s top of your food aversions?

30 Comments
  1. June 18, 2011 1:33 am

    I think they’re easier to eat if you don’t refer to their juices as “mucus”… 😉

    I adore okra, but can’t seem to get my tribe to eat it at all…might have to try your deepfrying method!

  2. June 18, 2011 3:54 am

    No thanks, Sally, I’ll have some wine though …

  3. June 18, 2011 4:20 am

    Top of my list (and one of the few items) on my foods to be avoided is okra. Good for you for giving it a shot. I still have not.

    But I do like tripe (in small batches) as made by Italians and Spaniards.

  4. June 18, 2011 6:29 am

    hahaha….did you do that little cartoon thing up top yourself? I love it!

    We actually make crispy deep fried okra with spices at home all the time, though without the gram flour. Everything else, including onions, etc. all pretty much the same so I know how yummy and addictive this can be (in fact I have a tub of it in my fridge right now!) Our favorite pairing for it is with warm mango/tamarind-flavored yellow daal, the tanginess pairs with the fried okra so well.

    Glad you found something that helped you get over slimy okra-phobia!

    • June 18, 2011 8:41 am

      With daal is a great idea. The cartoon is my very inexpert use of Gimp and Photoscape doctoring a children’s book cover by Lauren Child. Lola, the character in the book, has a deep seated aversion to tomatoes!

  5. June 18, 2011 8:48 am

    I share Lola’s aversion! Interesting, that redipe looks exactly like the method I failed completely to describe as producing unfeasibly edible okra at Coconut Grove…

  6. June 18, 2011 9:57 am

    Ugh. Okra never once got me excited either. The Lola sketch is HILARIOUS! Love your sense of humor. Using words like mucus causes the gag reflext to kick in. Nasty. Hmmm… I’m averse to intestines, gristle too. And runny egg yolks used to make me gag as a kid, but I’m over it now. Broccoli is actually on my list of things I hate. Life is too short.

  7. June 18, 2011 11:07 am

    I must be one of the few people that love okra. I have never cooked it in anything but soup so it just go into the pot at the very end like peas. However, I love it in gumbo, India version with the tomatoes, fried, etc

  8. Orly @yumivore permalink
    June 18, 2011 12:07 pm

    I grew up eating okra (although my family called it Bamia) and really enjoy it. Crisp okra looks so tempting! I’ll have to give this a try one day. Love the post (and the cartoon-touch).

  9. June 18, 2011 12:40 pm

    That looks very delicious! I have to admit I quite like the sliminess and it is apparently very good for you for cleaning out arteries and that sort of thing. Which means you can eat it deep friend without guilt 🙂
    I’d love the mango daal recipe – I have some mangos that need to be eaten or they are soon-to-be-bokashi!!

    • June 18, 2011 12:46 pm

      Yes I fancy that mango daal recipe. Will have to twist I live in a Frying Pan’s arm!

  10. June 18, 2011 3:22 pm

    Bravo! That was a masterful stroke to deep fry the okra…and even more masterful to have some wine with it! As you know, deep frying and wine makes anything better.

  11. June 18, 2011 4:18 pm

    Great recipe idea! Chinese love their okras as well, stir-fried style. But growing up I hated them due to the slimy texture, even now. I only eat okras dunked in fish curries or soups 🙂

  12. June 18, 2011 5:06 pm

    Do you know, I’ve never even tried it! Never been offered it either. Everything is good crispy and fried though eh?

  13. June 18, 2011 5:47 pm

    Interesting! I love the post. I also have a love hate relationship with Okra – I always either brush them clean not wash them or wash them and dry them out throughly before cutting with an absolutely bone dry knife and then tossing in oil plus spices to cook! when it works – like in your recipe above – it works! x

  14. Anna permalink
    June 19, 2011 12:10 am

    Sorry – no gluey stuff , no pleasure as far as I’m concerned – a turkish cook once made me a dish with okra, carrots, potatoes, tomatoes and spices, it was yummy. Hard to think of food I don’t like, but what IS slimey, are alot of prepared foods from supermakets, which have some kind of gloopy thickening agent – YUK. I have never tried tripe etc…

    • June 22, 2011 6:51 am

      I can’t believe you just said that – with you totally on the corn strach, thickener gloop though.

  15. June 20, 2011 1:21 pm

    I LOVE okra and always order it when at an Indian restaurant. Nearly everything is good deep fried and crispy.

    Love the Charlie & Lola picture.

  16. June 21, 2011 10:18 pm

    Nothing, nothing, nothing can ever make me eat bhindi (or okra) willingly. No matter how it’s cooked. No matter how masked the taste is. I can find it. And I mean, we make bhindi dishes in my house frequently, and there’s no slime, but I just cannot stand the taste in general.
    So foods I avoid? Bhindi, cauliflower, cabbages, brinjals, prawns, . Yes, I’m fussy with veg food. I’m quite a carnivore!

    • June 22, 2011 6:49 am

      …and you list some of my favourites there! Cabbage is a the most delicious vegetable and a good cauliflower cheese is sublime. Good thing we’re not all the same!

  17. June 22, 2011 4:16 am

    Hi Sally,
    I must admit to loving okra, sorry if that horrifies you! When I cook them in curry spices for not much more than 10 minutes they have a bite to them with not a hint of sticky goo in sight-go on ,give them another try
    I think your crispy fried okra look a treat, a perfect crunchy vegetable dish.

    • June 22, 2011 6:50 am

      …I have to admit there may be a next time Laura so thanks for your advice.

  18. July 13, 2011 1:52 pm

    Thank you so much Sally for entering this post into Simple and in Season. The fashionably late round up will appear today! Ren

    • July 14, 2011 10:03 am

      Look forward to the round up Ren.

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