Much to SoupAddict’s surprise, she found okra in her CSA bag this past weekend. Surprised because, not having been raised with the wonders of okra, it’s not the first vegetable that springs to mind when planning dinner. So, spotting them at the bottom of the bag, SoupAddict went, “huh” and then, in keeping with SoupAddict’s go-with-the-flow philosophy, okra took its place on the weekend menu.
But with a twist. Usually breaded and fried, okra can otherwise slip-slide into sliminess, like canned asparagus. [Yuck.] Grilling, however, keeps the natural crunch of okra, while adding a summertime smokiness that goes so well with vegetables.
SoupAddict doesn’t get to pick her own okra, so she had to take what she could get. The okra-picker-outer at her CSA apparently decided any okra is better than none. Which is true of diamonds: you’ll never catch SoupAddict tossing a gift diamond over her shoulder because it’s a little cloudy. But with okra, you need to get finicky: the smaller, the better. The largest pod here was 6″ long, hard as nails, fibrous and inedible. Bad okra-picker-outer, bad!
Okra has a bad rep, much like Brussels sprouts, and folks anxiously wonder what it takes like, as if the flavor alone would kill them on the spot. SoupAddict would describe it as a cross between green snap beans and asparagus (fresh asparagus, not the slimy canned variety), with the seeds donating a sort of sweet corn flavor and texture to the mix.
The spicy chicken dish that SoupAddict already picked for the menu called out for spicy okra. So here we have some smoked paprika, cayenne, coriander, celery seed, salt, black pepper and sugar. Because sugar and spice is everything nice. Or something like that.
Except for the small okra pod shown, this batch is honking huge, with no danger of the pods falling through between the grill grates. However, for those of you who envyingly obtained small okras, skewering several pods together, raft-fashion, on a flat bamboo stick will make grilling ever so easy.
Brush both sides of the raft with olive oil or melted butter.
And then we find where our heads were, back up and remove the tops.
Sprinkle the rub over both sides of the raft.
And try not to get suddenly freaked out by the fact that okra is hairy.
Toss ’em on the grill. SoupAddict was far too lazy to soak the bamboo skewers in water before using them. One end of the skewer is protected by some folded over foil, while the other end catches fire. (But don’t worry. No okras were hurt during the filming of this event. Until they were eaten. Then they were in a world of hurt.)
Crunchy, slightly smoky, and ever so yummy. Summer’s bounty is winding down fast, peeps. Grab the variety while you can.
adapted from FoodNetwork.com
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon smoked or sweet paprika
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon celery seed
1 pound fresh okra
unsalted butter, melted, or olive oil
Preheat the grill to high.
Place the salt, paprika, sugar, coriander, black pepper, cayenne, and celery seed in a small bowl and stir to mix.
Using a flat-slided skewer, slide one pod on to the skewer through its middle. Add three more pods to the skewer in the same fashion to form a raft. Repeat with the remaining pods, 4 or 5 to a skewer. Place the okra rafts on a large plate and brush both sides with olive oil or butter. Sprinkle all sides of the rafts with the rub mixture.
When ready to cook, lay a folded strip of foil along the front edge of the grill to protect the skewers from the heat. Arrange the rafts directly over the heat. Grill the okra until nicely browned, about 2 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer the grilled okra to a platter or plates and serve immediately.