Turn My Boyfriend Into an Okra-Lover!

Chowhounds converge to convert a boyfriend from the dark side of okra hate.

WendyBinCT offers a battered fried okra after she quotes Indiana-born journalist Roy Blount Jr.’s poetic tribute:

“String beans are good, and ripe tomatoes,
And collard greens and sweet potatoes,
Sweet corn, field peas, squash and beets—
But when a man rears back and eats
He wants okra.”

Here’s an excellent recipe for fried okra.

1 pound okra (about 24 pods)
1/2 cup buttermilk (or 1/2 cup egg substitute)
4 to 6 dashes hot pepper sauce
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
1/4 teaspoon (or more) cayenne pepper
1/4 cup oil

Wash okra pods. Trim away and discard the stem end and tip of each pod. Cut crosswise into 1/2-inch slices.

In a bowl, combine buttermilk (or egg) and hot pepper sauce. Add okra and stir until all slices are well coated. Let stand for 10 to 15 minutes.

In a medium bowl, whisk together cornmeal, flour, Old Bay, and cayenne. Use a slotted spoon to lift okra slices from buttermilk, draining well, then add okra to cornmeal-flour mixture and toss lightly to coat. Pour okra into a sieve and shake off excess cornmeal.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Test the pan for correct heat by placing 1 slice of okra in the hot oil. If it sizzles, the pan is hot enough. Place the remaining okra into the skillet. (It may be necessary to fry the okra in batches.) Allow the okra to fry 3 to 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon or perforated spatula, turn gently. Continue to fry, 6 to 10 minutes total, checking and turning as needed until okra is quite brown and very crisp. Place 2 or 3 crumpled paper towels in a serving bowl. Transfer okra to paper towels to drain.

As an alternative to frying, bake the coated okra. Preheat oven to 450°F. Place a wire rack on top of a cookie sheet. Arrange okra on rack and bake until crisp, about 10 minutes.

You can roast uncoated okra, too. mimilulu says roasted okra is “wonderful and not slimy at all.” Start with the smallest okra you can find. Larger okra tends to be woody, which won’t roast well.

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Coat a baking sheet with olive oil or spray, add okra, and season to taste. Add a couple of teaspoons of olive oil and toss. Roast, stirring every 5 minutes, until okra is browned on all sides, about 15 minutes. Serve hot.

And what doesn’t taste better with bacon—even okra?

bkhuna offers tomatoes, okra, and bacon. Fry chopped bacon. Remove the bacon bits from the pan and set aside. Fry sliced okra in the bacon drippings with chopped onion. When the onion starts to color, add chopped canned tomatoes. Add a little salt and pepper, and simmer until tender. Serve over rice.

And then an okra-potato hash that’s converted mudster and his Midwestern peeps: Dice a few red potatoes into 1/2-inch cubes. Sauté in a nonstick pan in olive oil with onions and garlic, just as you would make home fries. Jalapeños or serranos are a good addition. Season with salt, pepper, cayenne, and, if you desire, cumin. When the potatoes are brown and the onions nearly caramelized, remove them from the pan and set aside. Wipe the pan thoroughly. Toss sliced okra with cornmeal and sauté in moderately hot olive oil. (Transfer the okra over to the pan in a slotted spoon, so you don’t dump excess cornmeal into the oil.) Season with the same mixture of salt, pepper, cayenne, and cumin. Cook until golden on both sides. You want the oil to be hot enough to pan-fry the okra. If the okra cooks too slowly, it’ll start to steam—and that means moisture, which in turn means slime.

Once the okra is browned, add the potatoes and onions back to the pan and mix thoroughly.

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