I am not going to lie. I hate okra.
Or I used to hate it.
Okra will break an adolescent heart.
When I was young, my mother regularly made a big pot of stewed okra and tomatoes for.....herself. I mean she certainly didn't cook it for me. OR my brother. WE HATED IT.
But those early stages of stewed okra preparation were the cruelest. When Mom sauteed the chopped onions and celery, it smelled DIVINE. I'd get quite excited. That aroma rarely meant anything but delectable. You know what I'm talking about, don't you? It's simply one of the finest fragrances to emanate from the kitchen.
And then....THEN SHE'D GO AND RUIN IT! She'd add canned tomatoes and frozen okra to it. Two of the most detested foods of my youth. I daresay everyone's youth! (Okay, not everyone, but c'mon. Did you really crave stewed okra and canned tomatoes in your younger days?)
So back to the beginning-- I hate okra.
Unless it's roasted or grilled. Then, oddly enough, I LOVE okra.
What's that about??
Well, it's about that slime. Properly roasted or grilled okra is not slimy, especially if tackled whole. Okra becomes slimy when those funky little seed balls within the pod are crushed. That's the primary source of the mucilaginous goooooo. Using a very sharp knife to slice okra (avoiding pressing heavily on the pod) can eliminate some of the issue. Leaving the pods whole can eliminate almost all of the issue. And a third tip towards desliming came from a friend from India-- he always soaks his okra in vinegar before cooking.
No slimy okra? Sign me up!
So, I made an Indian-spiced marinade, let the pod-babies soak in it for a few hours, drained, patted (mostly) dry, and grilled it directly on a clean grate. I like mine almost blackened-crisp, but you may adjust the grilling time to your own preferred doneness. Over a medium-hot flame, I cooked these pods on an open grill for about 4 minutes, flipped them with the aid of a large, heatproof spatula, then about 4 minutes on the remaining side. Naturally, grill times will vary with the temperature and location of the heat source. Keep an eye on them.
1/8 cup grapeseed oil
1 cup red wine vinegar
2T garam masala spice blend
1t kosher salt
Prepare about a pint of okra by wiping pods with a dampened towel.
Toss okra pods into a large plastic storage bag with marinade. Allow to marinate 2 hours or more, frequently turning the bag to cover okra. Remove from marinade, drain, and pat lightly to remove excess marinade.
Over a medium hot fire, grill okra directly on a clean grate, turning once, for about 4 minutes on each side, until moderately crisp. (see note above for adjusting cooking time, temperature, and placement on grill to reach your desired degree of doneness.)
Remove from heat. Season to taste with kosher salt. Serve.
Now I love this whole pod grilled okra, and I think you will, too, so much that it rarely reaches my plate. I manage to polish off whole batches while the rest of the meal finishes its grill time. But should patience be your virtue, you might like to try it with this Smoky Roasted Garlic & Red Pepper Sauce, on another post about my previous
Ode to Okra Virginia Willis, Southern Foodways Alliance
Growing Okra The Old Farmers Almanac
Okra: A Savor the South® Cookbook Virginia Willis
Grilling Veggies and Fruits Whole Foods Market
And more from this Savoring Summer series:
Grilled Peaches with Pesto & Chevre