If you read one book about Latin America, make sure it isn’t Open Veins of Latin America. Michael Reid’s book – Forgotten Continent – is far more balanced and analytical.
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Okra, another plant brought to the Caribbean during the slave trade. These soft pod like fruits are usually harvested at about six inches in length. They are oblong in shape, rather fuzzy on the exterior, and tapers to a point on the opposite end. The interior is rather soft and filled with a mass of glutinous seeds. It is this almost “slimy” fruit that gives the ubiquitous callaloo soup its texture.
In fact many of the islands’ native dishes rely heavily on the inclusion on okra in their recipes mostly for the lovely soft and almost slippery texture it gives off to the respective recipes. Choose okras that are green in colour and when you snap the pointed end it should break off quite easily, this is a good indication that your okra are young and tender.
OKRA RICE WITH COCONUT
2 oz salted cod
2 tbs. vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 Hot pepper. Seeded and chopped
2 pimento peppers, seeded and chopped
12 okra, sliced
2 tomatoes, chopped
2 cups rice
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup coconut milk (or 2 tbs. coconut milk powder)
Salt to taste
Soak salt cod in cool water for about 30 minutes, drain and shred into bits. In a large sauté pan heat oil, add onion, garlic and peppers sauté until fragrant. Add salted cod bits, stir then add okra and cook for about five minutes. Add tomatoes and stir well. Add rice and turn to coat rice grains with oil and flavourings. Add stock, coconut milk and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then cover. Cook for about 20 minutes until rice grains are tender. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Serves six to eight
1 tbs vegetable oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped peppers
1/2 cup chopped celery
11/2 cup chopped okra
1 14 oz tin corn niblets, drained
1 8 oz tin whole tomatoes, crushed, with juice
1 tbs fresh thyme
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper or one hot pepper, seeded and chopped
salt to taste
Heat oil in a sauté pan, add onions, celery, peppers, cook for about four minutes until fragrant and tender. Add okra, corn and tomatoes, stir to combine, add thyme, paprika and cayenne, season with salt and pepper, cook for about 30 minutes until vegetables are tender.
Serves four to six
CORNMEAL CRUSTED OKRA
1 cup flour
Salt and pepper
1 cup cornmeal
Oil for frying
Wash and dry okra, leave whole. Beat egg and place in a large shallow dish. Season flour with salt and pepper. Dredge okra in flour, then dip into egg and then roll in cornmeal. Fry in hot oil until golden. Drain on paper towels and serve immediately. Serves four