Some foods are mucilaginous (think: aloe vera or that jelly goo from soaked flax seeds). Some folks are fine with that while some can’t abide it. Some cooking methods are better than others for mitigating this; frying is a good one, and who doesn’t love a little deep-fried treat now and then? Fun fact: Okra is part of the same family that brings us cotton, hollyhocks and mallows, including marshmallows!
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
1/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce or reduced-sodium tamari
2 tbsp runny honey
1 heaping tbsp finely minced, peeled fresh ginger
3 tbsp coconut milk
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
2 tbsp Asian chili garlic sauce or sriracha
8 cups chopped okra; washed, stem caps cut off, sliced into 1-inch pieces
Vegetable oil for deep frying; enough to fill a deep saucepan
1 cup fine cornmeal
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp white pepper
1 tsp black pepper
1 free-range egg
In large bowl, whisk together peanut butter, vinegar, soy sauce, honey, ginger, coconut milk, sesame oil and chili sauce until thoroughly combined and smooth; set aside.
In deep saucepan over medium-high heat or in deep fryer, add vegetable oil enough to fill pan at least 8 inches deep while leaving at least 3 inches of bubble-up room—and bring up to 350°F. Place deep-fat thermometer in oil and keep saucepan lid nearby for safety.
In another bowl, whisk together cornmeal, cornstarch, salt, white pepper and black pepper; set aside.
In a third, large bowl, whisk egg until frothy; add okra pieces and toss to coat well. After a few minutes of tossing, the okra should absorb almost all of the egg.
While vegetable oil is heating up, add egg-coated okra pieces to bowl of seasoned cornmeal; stir or toss to coat well.
Add the coated okra to the hot oil by the handful, gently shaking off excess cornmeal before carefully lowering the okra into the hot oil. The okra will sink then bob to the surface as it cooks. Do not add too much at once or the temperature of the oil will drop; try to keep it at 350°F.
Fry each batch until golden, about 10 minutes, then use Chinese spider or slotted spoon to transfer okra to clean kitchen towel or cookie cooling rack to drain. Serve immediately.
TIP Peanut sauce can be made up to 4 days ahead of time and refrigerated. Let it come to room temperature before serving.
TIP Any leftover cornmeal coating can be stashed in the freezer for use another day.
TIP For the best deep-frying results, invest in a deep-fat thermometer.
From Hudson, Quebec, now living in Port Hope, Ontario, Signe is a restaurant chef-turned-writer who tells award-winning stories and creates delicious recipes for LCBO’s Food & Drink, Manna Pro Hearty Homestead, The Harvest Commission, and Today’s Parent; she published her first book – Happy Hens & Fresh Eggs; Keeping Chickens in the Kitchen Garden with 100 Recipes – in 2015.