Remember, as you read this, that butcher’s apprentices don’t live on innards alone. I am so excited that Naomi Duguid’s latest cookbook is nearly available –in fact, you can pre-order it at Amazon already. I took a peek at the book using the “look inside” link, and was thrilled to find a promising recipe using okra, which is the current darling of my garden.
A few things about okra: First, I’m growing stunning okra right here in Vermont, way north of the Mason-Dixon line. Secondly, when a bone fide Southern Lady tells you that your okra pods are monstrous big and almost certainly inedible, take the hint and harvest more frequently. No bigger than the average middle finger. Before I learned this lesson, I tried deep-frying some huge pods which I’d thinly sliced. They tasted deliciously of okra, but the texture was twiggy, straw-like, and splintery: don’t try to emulate my stubborn ways or you may do permanent damage to your hard palate .. Thirdly –prettiest flowers ever! Next year I’ll be growing more Clemson’s Spineless, a nice green okra, as well as the stunning red ones that Naomi turned me on to yesterday.
Every culture that uses okra has two basic ways to eat okra –either as a vegetable thickener for stews (think gumbo) or fried. I haven’t tried okra in a stew, because I’m loving all the fried versions I’m cooking up these days.
The Burmese recipe Naomi offers in her cookbook is warmly seasoned, beautifully golden from being sizzled in turmeric, and deliciously savory with a mess of fried shallots.
Not only are the flowers dramatically beautiful, the pods themselves are studies in gorgeous botanical design.
I love how golden the peanut oil and shallots get from the bit of turmeric in the recipe.
I was running around like a crazy woman getting ready to leave for Scrabble club; this okra dish, a bit of rice, and some spicy beef & green tomato stir-fry, and garlicky naan, of course, were the makings of my Scrabble club dinner.
Then there was an unexpected and delightful visit from a pair of monks out on an impromptu road-trip. I and my cat, Mouse, entertained them mightily as I rushed around getting ready to take off for Brattleboro .
I think I might adjust my timing with regard to when I add the okra so that I can get a tiny bit more crispiness on the okra without risking over-browning the shallots. I’ll get it right next time. The bottom line: this is my absolute favorite okra recipe, and would be enough reason to keep on growing the pods. Mmm!
This dish is also a tantalizing promise that Naomi’s latest cookbook is going to provide years of thrilling cooking. I’m not exaggerating: the book that introduced me to the deeply researched, gorgeously evoked, and gracefully authentic recipes which are the hallmarks of Naomi’s food writing, was Hot Sour Salty Sweet: A Culinary Journey Through Southeast Asia. That cookbook was a revelation on so many levels, and I’ve absorbed so much of who I am as a cook and a lover of food today from it.