Friday, October 05, 2012
This recipe was inspired by "Flash Cooked Okra with Almonds" from "A New Turn in the South: Southern Flavors Reinvented for your Kitchen" by Hugh Acheson (original recipe here). Acheson says that flash cooking the okra helps to keep the okra from getting "sludgy". He also recommends buying small pods, since the pods get woodier when they get bigger.
Additional tips not mentioned in this recipe: The okra should be very dry when you cut it, otherwise it will get slimy. If it isn't dirty, then consider not washing the okra (I didn't). Also, after you cut the okra, let it sit on the counter top for 10 minutes before you cook it, to help dry it out.
I also needed more salt than he suggested.
I didn't have sliced almonds, so I roasted some whole raw almonds and chopped them.
1 pound okra
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
pinch of salt
1/2 cup almonds
optional: a pinch of amchur powder
The okra must be very dry. Do not wash okra. Remove the stems from 1 pound okra and cut into long pieces on the bias. Let sit for 10 minutes to help dry it out.
Roast the almonds in a small cast ion pan on your stove top, watching carefully and stirring often so they didn't burn. Chop with a knife.
Heat a large saute pan (the pan should be large enough to fit the okra in one layer) on high; the pan should be very hot so that the okra will brown a bit on the cut edges. Add olive oil and butter. When the butter melts and bubbles, add the okra. Saute for 3 minutes. Add some salt and mix it in; taste an adjust seasonings. Add half of the chopped almonds and mix thoroughly. Place the okra in a serving bowl.
Optional: The recipe was written with only the instructions above, but wanted a bit of acidity. A bit of lemon juice squeezed on top tastes nice but the liquid can make the okra sludgy. Vinegar and most western acidic ingredients would have the same effect, which is probably why the recipe doesn't include any acidity, since the point of Acheson's recipe is to make dry, non-sludgy okra. I preferred mixing in some amchur powder, which is green mango powder (see amchur powder with okra) that is used in Indian cooking to add acidity with no liquid. It is okay to add the amchur after the okra has cooked. (You can also add both lemon juice and amchur; the lemon will make it sludgy but the amchur will help to soak up some of the moisture.)
Note: Make sure that you move the okra into a serving bowl before you add acidity; do not add acidity into the cast iron pan since it will corrode your pan.
Sprinkle the remaining chopped almonds on top.