Mmm, mmm okra! Yes, some people shy away from this odd little vegetable, usually because depending on the preparation it can be a little slippery slimy. Personally I love okra, any which way, including slimified. Alas, not everyone shares my affection (it’s a texture thing), but the good news is that okra can be a perfectly un-slippery vegetable if it is sautéed quickly, on high heat. That way you get all the benefits of the crunch and flavor, but without the slurp. This recipe is one such preparation. The pairing of okra and tomatoes is classic. In this recipe, inspired by one in Donald Link’s Real Cajun, sliced okra is seared first on high heat, before being simmered together with tomatoes, onions, and garlic.
Use fresh okra for this recipe if you want to avoid okra's characteristic slimy texture.
- 5 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 celery rib, sliced thin
- 1/2 onion, sliced thin
- 1 jalapeño chile, seeded, sliced thin
- 3 garlic cloves, sliced thin
- 1 Tbsp tomato paste
- 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth (use vegetable broth for vegetarian version, and gluten-free broth for gluten-free version)
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
- 1/2 to 3/4 pound fresh okra
- 5 plum tomatoes, diced
- Salt and pepper
1 Heat 3 tablespoons of the vegetable oil in a large sauté pan or wide, shallow pot over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, sauté the onion, jalapeño and celery for 2 minutes, stirring once or twice. Add the garlic and sauté for another minute or two.
2 While the vegetables are sautéing, mix the tomato paste, broth and vinegar until they are combined. Add to the pan with the vegetables and bring to a boil. Add the rosemary and a pinch of salt.
3 As the sauce is boiling, slice the okra on the bias to create diagonal pieces. The reason for diagonal slicing is to expose as much of the interior of the okra as possible. Wait to cut the okra until the last minute because it helps make them less slimy.
4 Heat another pan over high heat for a minute or two. Add the remaining oil and get it almost smoking hot, which should take 1-2 minutes. Add the sliced okra and spread out in a single layer in the pan. Let the okra brown for at least a minute before you move them. The goal is to cook the okra quickly at very high heat without moving it too much. The high heat sears the okra and helps limit the slime factor. Sear the okra for 3-4 minutes, stirring only 2-3 times.
5 As soon as the okra is done, add it to the boiling sauce. Add the diced tomatoes and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 5 minutes, no longer. The tomatoes should still be a bit firm, and you don't want to cook the okra to the point it starts releasing slime.
6 Turn off the heat, grind black pepper over everything and taste once more for salt. Add if needed.
Serve over steamed rice or with lots of crusty bread.