I was born south of the Mason-Dixon, but my cooking heritage is decidedly Northern and immigrant. Most of the way I learned to cook came from my grandmothers and mother, and okra was never in any of those kitchens. So, for me, it was an alien ingredient. And all the warnings I read about the mucus-y stuff that escapes when you cut it? I was very apprehensive. It seemed prudent to jump off from a tried-and-true preparation and then twist it up.
Alton Brown hooked me up with a simple “dry fried” okra recipe, which I altered just a bit by omitting the salt and adding a bit of chili powder. Then, because I have a hard time resisting the opportunity to dip fried items, I thought a trio of dipping sauces would be fun and okra is used around the world, so why not spread out the love across the continents? This is a great party food, so I mostly gave basic ratios for the dipping sauces so you can easily make more or less depending on your needs.
Oh, and I found the mucus problem to be nonexistent. Maybe because the okra spent five days in the fridge before I used it? Maybe because I cut it minimally? Maybe the frying? Maybe luck? Not sure what did it, but I’ll take it.
Fried Okra with Three Continents Dipping Sauces
by CSAGourmet, fried okra recipe adapted from Alton Brown
2 pints okra
1/2 cup stone-ground cornmeal
1/4 tsp chili powder (or 1/2 tsp if you like the flavor more prominent)
oil for frying (I used canola)
Pour about 1″ of oil into the bottom of a small stockpot. Heat until a pinch of cornmeal sizzles when dropped in. Rinse and dry okra. Remove stem and cut into 1/2″-3/4″ pieces. Mix cornmeal and chili powder in a bowl. Toss okra in cornmeal mixture. Shake off excess (do a good job at this or the oil gets saturated quickly). Fry in batches until golden brown. Remove with slotted spoon and allow to drain on paper towels.
Pan-Asian Dipping Sauce
low sodium soy sauce
rice wine vinegar
1/4 tsp garlic
1/4 tsp ginger
1 shake Chinese five spice powder
Create a base of about 1/4 cup soy sauce and 2-3 dashes rice wine vinegar. Add a dash of sesame oil. Grate garlic and ginger into soy sauce (a microplane works great). Add a shake of Chinese five spice powder. Stir vigorously.
New Orleans Remoulade Dipping Sauce
Note: There are many different remoulade variations. This is the one I like best
horseradish mustard (sometimes called “deli style” — read the label to make sure it has horseradish in it. If it does not, use a whole grain mustard and add prepared grated horseradish to taste)
Cajun seasoning mix (can substitute Old Bay — I used Chesapeake Bay seasoning from Penzeys)
Mix a ratio of 2/3 horseradish mustard to 1/3 ketchup. Add a shake of seasoning. Stir to combine.
Middle Eastern Pomegranate Yogurt Dipping Sauce
plain, Greek-style yogurt
1 pomegranate (can try substituting pomegranate juice, but test first as any added sugar may thrown off the taste)
Create a base of yogurt (about 3/4 of a cup for a dinner party size appetizer portion). Squeeze in juice from about 1/2 a pomegranate (may have to use a full one depending on the juiciness of the one you have). Grate a little orange zest into yogurt mixture. Add small pinch of salt. Stir to combine.
Put each component in its own dish and serve. Enjoy!