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Crunchy & Delectable Fried Okra Salad
When in Rome ... or the South
Having been born and raised on the west coast, the only association I ever had with okra was in Campbell's Chicken Gumbo soup and even then, if you had asked me what those slimy green slices of vegetable matter were, I would not have been able to tell you.
Then I moved to Texas. Well, let me tell you, every restaurant we visited, from Uncle Len's Catfish House (sadly, no longer here - burned down in 2004 and never rebuilt) and Dyers Barbecue to Golden Chick, had fried okra on the menu and I quickly became a fan.
Some people don't like the fact that it can be a bit slimy. To my mind, if you like eggplant, you will like okra's distinctive flavor and texture.
What I love about this recipe, aside from being colorful and tasty, is that it can be tweaked to suit you. If you are a vegetarian, omit the bacon. Add fresh herbs of your choice or change up the vinegar flavors - it works equally and wonderfully well with apple cider, red wine, or balsamic vinegars.
A (very) little about okra ...
Okra is not native to the United States. It is thought to be of African origin and in the same family as cotton and hibiscus. It is available year round in the South and can be purchased fresh, breaded and frozen, canned, and pickled. If you purchase it fresh, use it within 2 to 3 days or blanch and freeze for up to 12 months.
'Frying' Bacon in the Oven
The length of preparation depends entirely on if you use or how you choose to cook the bacon. If you fry on top of the stove it will take extra time, but I heartily recommend oven cooking.
Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil (helps with clean up!). Arrange bacon slices in rows - do not overcrowd. Place pan in cold oven and turn on to 400°. Cook for 20 minutes without disturbing.
Best and easiest way I know ... and while it's cooking you can slice and dice your veg!
- 1 - 1½ pound bag okra, breaded & frozen
- vegetable oil, for frying
- 3 Roma tomatoes, seeded & diced
- 1 large red onion, chopped - a bunch of green onions would work, too
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 small jalapeno pepper, (optional) seeded & chopped
- 6 slices bacon, fried and crumbled
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- ¼ cup sugar
- ¼ cup distilled white vinegar
- Fry okra in vegetable oil according to package directions, drain on paper towels. I have found you get the best results when frying in small batches.
- In a medium bowl, combine okra, tomatoes, bell pepper, green onions and bacon.
- In a small saucepan, combine oil, sugar and vinegar. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently until sugar dissolves. Pour over okra mixture, tossing gently to coat.
- Serve immediately.