As much as we love okra, we’d already pickled a bunch and gumbo’d a bunch and fried a bunch this year. Was at a bit of a loss for what do to with the last batch we would get from our summer CSA. Southern Living had a useless list of Top 10 okra recipes. Well, useless to me, because most of the recipes called to add canned tomatoes, which discredited them.
Then I stumbled on this recipe on the adorable Veggie Belly blog and decided to give it a shot.
I mean, why do a simple gumbo with it, when you can painstakingly cut each piece of okra open and hand-stuff it with a homemade masala, right? (And this is her simple adaptation of a traditional recipe that calls for tying string around each piece of okra before frying it. Gah!)
Still, this would let me, at long last, try rehydrating some of the dried chilis we bought as a decorative bundle when we drove through Santa Fe on our Ferment and Firmament spring driving tour. So I was up to the challenge.
Rehydrating the pepper is as easy as cutting the stems, shaking out the seeds, dropping the chilis in a bowl of boiling water (using something like a smaller bowl to hold them under) and soaking for an hour. It was that easy.
The masala wasn’t hard either, though a bit more elbowy. I pan fried the peppers with coriander, fennel and cumin in a splash of oil, then ground that all up. We don’t have a spice grinder, but we’ve got a mortar and pestle that I bought Jenn as a souvenir from a trip to Honduras. So I ground the stuff the old-fashioned way.
Then it’s just a matter of cooking minced onion and garlic and tossing in the spice mix to complete the masala.
After washing and stemming the okra (okras?), I took a paring knife and cut a lengthwise slit nearly all the way through each. You have to be brave enough to cut to the bottom wall of the veg, but not through it. If you don’t cut deep enough, you’re asking for trouble when you try to pry it open to pack the goodness inside.
And that’s exactly what you do next.
Then you hit another couple dashes of oil, brown a layer of the okra, then cover and cook for a handful of minutes before turning them and browning the top side (the side with the slit).
And that’s really it. It was time consuming, but delicious. And they weren’t slimy at all, for all you people who are okra-shy for that reason. Which, in my opinion, is just silly.