Baked Okra (Fırında Bamya)
Among the numerous delicious vegetables that I hated as a kid, okra is the only one that I still don’t like. After college, I started to eat, cook, and deeply love leek, fava beans, artichokes, etc., yet even the idea of tasting okra gave me shivers. Okra is fuzzy. Okra is slimy, very slimy. Based on observation I can say people either love it or hate it. Also, okra lovers seriously believe that others would like okra if they eat a well cooked okra dish and that sliminess is due to bad cooking. What’s a good way of cooking okra I don’t know. The only okra dish I knew is some sort of stew. In Turkey in my house and in every other house I know okra is cooked with tomatoes, onion, and lemon juice in olive oil: nothing exciting and still slimy.
That’s why I was really excited to find a new (to me) okra recipe in Sarah Woodward’s book, The Ottoman Kitchen. I cannot say I liked the book. But in the end it won my favor with one recipe; for the first time in my life I ate 7 okras and really enjoyed it.
1 lb fresh okra (not the huge woody ones)
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
1 red bell pepper, cut in thin strips
1 green bell pepper, cut in thin strips
2 onions, chopped finely
3 tomatoes, sliced in rounds
1/2 bunch flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
ground black pepper1/2 cup water
crushed red pepper flakes
-Wash okra and dry well. Trim off the end of the stems, but be careful not to cut into the pod.
-Put okra in a large flat dish and sprinkle vinegar with generous amount of salt. Make sure both sides are coated well. Let it marinate for at least half an hour.
-Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a skillet and cook onions until golden brown.
-Rinse okra well. Place them in rows in an oven dish; sprinkle onions.
-First put tomato slices on okras, and then crisscross pepper strips on tomatoes.
-Scatter the parsley over.
-Season with plenty of black pepper and pepper flakes. (Be careful with salt; remember okras were soaked in salt and vinegar)
-Finally pour the rest of the olive oil evenly and water.
-Bake at 375F for almost an hour. Pick one to taste; it should be soft but not very soft.
-Let it cool in its own juice and serve barely warm okras!