How to Cook Okra

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Okra is a bit like marmite – people love it or hate it but it is certainly worth giving it a chance. Sometimes people dislike okra because it has not been cooked correctly – in this recipe we steam it for just 15 minutes so that it does not become ‘sticky’.

Serves 4 as a side dish

Ingredients

2 tablespoons sunflower, peanut or rapeseed oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
2 peeled medium onions or 6 peeled shallots, sliced thinly
1 tablespoon curry paste
400g okra, washed, dried and tops and bottoms removed
Pinch of salt

Instructions

1. Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the cumin and coriander seeds and fry over a gentle heat until they are fragrant – about one minute.

2. Add the sliced onions or shallots and fry until golden. Add the curry paste and 1 tablespoon of water, stir and cook for one minute. Add the okra and season with salt.

3. Stir and cook over a medium heat with the lid on the frying pan for 12 to 15 minutes, checking that it is not sticking and stirring it gently from time to time. The okra is cooked when a sharp knife can pierce it easily.

RECIPE IDEAS USING OKRA

FRIED OKRA IN  BREADCRUMBS: Deep-fry okra to make it crisp: dip the whole okra in flour, then whisked egg, then breadcrumbs. Place on a plate and chill for 15 minutes. Deep-fry the okra in 2 inches of hot sunflower or rapeseed oil until crisp. It takes about 3 minutes a side so you need to turn them once during cooking. (Always be careful of cooking in hot oil.)

QUICK PICKLED OKRA: Bring 500ml of cold water and 500ml of vinegar to the boil in a saucepan. Add 1 tablespoon salt, 1 clove of peeled garlic, 1 sliced red chilli and 1 teaspoon of cumin, coriander or mustard seeds. Turn the heat off. Place 400g whole washed okra in a heatproof bowl or jar. Pour over the vinegar mixture making sure the okra are covered – add boiling water to top it up if you need to. Leave to cool and cover with a lid or clingfilm and store in the fridge for 2 days to pickle. Use on the third day. Keeps for up to a week in the fridge.

FRIED OKRA IN GARLIC AND CHILLI
Top and tail the okra, then cut them in half on the bias. Rinse. Fry 2 halved garlic cloves in olive oil, remove and discard them and add one finely sliced red chilli. Fry briefly. Add the whole okra, season with salt and fry for 7-8 minutes or until golden. Eat immediately. to make the dish Asian, add a splash of pinch of sugar and spoon of oyster or satay sauce when you add the chilli.

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