Okra is a summer vegetable and in Greece they appear in the farmers’ market from June to late September.
Fresh okra is often maligned for being slimy, but if they are handled properly, before cooked, these small, green pods will become delicious when cooked if you follow one of the following two procedures:
With a sharp knife cut the stem in a circular manner leaving a small cone on the top, without cutting through and revealing the seeds. Wash them thoroughly and drain.
Put them on a large tray in one layer and sprinkle them with wine vinegar (about 2 tbsp). Let them sit in the sun for about 1 hour. They are ready to be cooked. No rinse is necessary.
Put some salt in a small bowl ( 3 – 4 tbsp). With a sharp knife cut the stem in a circular manner leaving a small cone on the top, without cutting through. Dip the cleaned edge in the salt and place on a large tray lined with kitchen paper, in one layer.
Let them sit in the sun for about 1 hour or more, covered with a tulle to prevent flies or insects from sitting on them.
Rinse thoroughly and drain well before cooking. If you are in a hurry to cook them, pat dry on kitchen towel.
Personally I use the second method, which is the one I learned from my mother.
Update: 10th June, 2012
I was looking for the vegetarian recipe of okra to link it to this recipe and I realized that I have never added the recipe.
There was a time that I was writing recipes on other sites but did not post the same recipe simultaneously on ny blog as well. I wrote about okra on Group Recipes, years ago and it somehow, slipped my mind to post it here as well.
This is a classic Greek recipe of okra and is the one I usually cook for my family. This is an updated recipe on how I cook it today.
Mpamies Giahni (Stewed Okra)
Preparation time: 1 hour
Cooking time: 45 minutes
Serves: 5 – 6
1 kilo okra
1/3 cup vinegar
1/2 cup of olive oil
- 2 onions, sliced
1 clove roasted garlic, mashed (optional)
- 2 cups of fresh ripe tomatoes or 1 can of whole tomatoes blended
1 tbsp tomato paste
- Salt and pepper
1 organic vegetable bouillon
1/2 cup of chopped parsley
- Water (about 1 cup)
- Peel stem of okra and sprinkle with salt and vinegar (See above, step by step instructions).
- Slightly fry the okra and remove with a slotted ladle in a sauce pan.
- Chop onions and fry them in the olive oil till slightly brown.
- Add the garlic and mix for a few seconds.
- Add the tomatoes, vegetable bouillon, salt and pepper and water.
- Simmer for five minutes and put the sauce on top of the okra. Simmer until the okra is cooked (without stirring, as they will break) and until the sauce thickens, for about 20 – 30 minutes.
- Occasionally we tilt the pan so that the okra will not stick to the pan.
- Just before the end mix in the parsley.
You can find many more Greek recipes in my cookbook “More Than A Greek Salad”, and “Mint, Cinnamon & Blossom Water, Flavours of Cyprus, Kopiaste!” both available on all Amazon stores.
Other relevant recipes:
Mpamies me Liastes Ntomates (Braised okra with sun-dried tomatoes)
Kotopoulo me Mpamies (Okra with Chicken)
Mpamies me Bakaliaro (Okra with Pollock fillets)
Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,