Thursday, November 20, 2008

Let's Talk About Okra


Who even knows what that stuff is?


My short story about okra involves a bar-b-que evening that degenerated into a beer fest that degenerated into a frat party that degenerated into ... well, it degenerated.

I vaguely remember all of us planting okra seeds with gay abandon. Baccalaurean Okra.

The okra took root and grew into enormous, leafy plants with okra spears jutting out from every branch. Okra spears grow at the joint between a branch and the main stem, rather than hanging down like plums or figs. They stick right up there, as Palin would say with a twinkle in her eye.

So, once an okra plant becomes a teenager, the upright okra spears grow to full, turgid length every day. You can almost see them grow and the old wives tale suggests that you can make them grow faster by tickling the little hairs that grow along the shaft of the okra spear. Not that I've EVER done that, mind you. Old wives tale. Although, possibly with a young wife ...



Right. Back to the subject.

The three most popular ways of serving okra are fried, stewed and as an additive to a soup like gumbo where the starchy component of okra is used as a thickening agent.

OK, here we go again. Young wives and thickening agents. People! Focus, please.

You can't beat fried okra, even if you are a young wife. For a start, fried okra is chopped and there's basically nothing to beat. Chopped okra dipped in batter and deep fried in oil with spices is a wonderful snack. Not only is the okra full of fiber but if the oil is hot enough the dish is virtually fat free and downright healthy. Okra contain soft seeds and whether you spit or swallow the seeds is a matter of personal preference. The seeds are not tough like pumpkin seed husks, so I find it best just to gulp them down. Never had a problem with that.

Stewed okra are totally different and a much more mellow dish. You want to tone it down if you're stewing okra. Candles, Isaac Hayes on the stereo, onions, tomato paste and garlic. Now you're talking!

Gentle, bubbling, flavorful. Yeah, baby, that's it.

Throw in some sliced mushrooms and you've got it going.

Gimmie some ok-ra.
Right now!
Oh, yeah, bay-bee!

Hey, is it hot in here or is it me?

Gotta run!

1 comment:

Evn said...

You had me at "Not only is the okra full of fiber but if the oil is hot enough the dish is virtually fat free and downright healthy."

You lost me at "mushrooms."

Because mushrooms are disgusting.

I realize that this is a minority opinion in the culinary world, but it's still correct.

I'll take Elmo over mushrooms any day.