I don’t really consider myself a Southerner, although I live in Durham, North Carolina. Actually, the Triangle (Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill) appears to be much less Southern than much of the Old North State because there are so many transplants here from the rest of the country; however, there’s no denying the Southern charm, sweet tea and plethora of brightly colored pants on men and women.
Why do I not consider myself a Southerner, even though I have a rainbow of pants in my closet? I’m not too fond of sweet tea, I hate driving (a hard necessity I’ve had to embrace for my Southern living), and I really don’t eat that much Southern food. However, I’ve found one thing that pulls me closer to the South–I like okra. Although I’m from Kentucky, which I’ve come to think is more Midwestern than it likes to believe, I’m not sure that I tried okra until I moved to North Carolina, where fried okra is served at least weekly in the cafeterias at UNC.
I quickly discovered that I really like okra, though. I recently got a veggie plate at a restaurant, and of the four sides I ordered, two of them were okra-based. I’ve come to find that okra has a lot of haters, though. Lots of people think it’s slimey, which I guess it can be a little, but prepared well, it has a nice crunch and subtle flavor.
On my quest to find new side dishes, I came across an okra recipe. I had to try it, and I think you should too. This is a great way to feel like you’re Southern, even if you aren’t.
Stir-fried okra with shallots and chile
makes four servings
adapted from Bon Appetit
Notes: The original recipe includes 2 tablespoons ginger. I can’t imagine ginger and okra together, and honestly I don’t think it sounds appealing, so I’ve left it out.
This recipe also includes lime juice, but I think this is great with or without it, so if you don’t have a lime or don’t want to purchase one, don’t worry about missing out.
¼ cup vegetable oil
2 large shallots, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 serrano chile, thinly sliced
1 pound fresh okra, halved lengthwise and quartered if large
kosher salt and black pepper
juice from half a lime (optional)
1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook shallot, garlic and chile, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
2. Add okra, and cook for about 8 minutes, tossing once a minute, until tender and turning golden. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Transfer okra to a serving dish; toss with lime juice, if desired. Serve.