Friday, May 27, 2016

Cornmeal Okra and Mushrooms

It's a short season in this area for okra-- so short that many have not quite gotten the hang of this 'seed pod' vegetable.   Too bad because okra is an excellent source of soluble fiber and quite tasty as a side to any grilled entree. Trouble is, the characteristic sticky inner chambers can be challenging.

The best advise about okra, is to go with the vegetable's strength. The slick liquid inside helps to thicken classic gumbo and will thicken any stew or soup it goes in.

The albumen-like liquid surrounding the seeds also create the perfect coating for cornmeal making sliced okra an extremely simple fried side dish that is quite a bit lighter than most fried vegetables.  Here's how it works:

Cornmeal Okra and Mushrooms
Ingredients
1 pound while okra
1/2 pound portobello or button mushrooms
1/4 cup fine cornmeal
salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Method
  1. Rinse whole okra well and dry it.  Really let it dry. Then, take a paper towel and wipe it again so it is dry.  (Water is the enemy here in this recipe.)
  2. Now, cut each okra into half-inch pieces, placing them in a clean DRY bowl or plastic bag filled with the cornmeal and seasoned with salt, black pepper and a little cayenne pepper. 
  3. Also add the clean, dry mushrooms, cut in nice chunks (about the size of your okra pieces).
  4. Toss the ingredients together and shake off excess cornmeal using a sieve or colander.  Shake of cornmeal coating twice.
  5. Note how okra's natural lubrication helps the cornmeal coating stick to not only the okra but also the mushrooms.  
  6. Is your skillet dry?  Wipe it down to be sure.  
  7. Add a layer of oil and heat over a medium high flame.  
  8. Add okra and mushrooms and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring to turn vegetables over.  
  9. When vegetables are tender, remove and serve at once.
Reheats well: toss in a hot skillet.