Sunday, May 8, 2011

Dominican Okra Stew

I really like okra.  I think it's one of those love it or hate it things though.  And I can tell you that I used to hate it.  There have been several of those kinds of foods in my past that I would definitely consider in the love it or hate it category, and that includes mushrooms, beets and cilantro.  At one point, up until relatively recently actually, I hated all of those things and now really appreciate them.  Especially okra.  The first time I ever had it was when I first came to nyc.  My group in culinary school was preparing for our final Friday Night Dinner, in which we had to create a (at the time) four course vegan meal to serve 100 people.  It was quite an undertaking, let me tell you. 

And I unfortunately don't remember the whole meal, just bits and pieces.  It was a kind of American meal - elements from each course representing different areas of the country.  The entree was a Southern style meal, including a BBQ Tempeh, Cornbread (my recipe of course!), some kind of chiffonnaded green and a pickled okra spear.  That was my first experience with okra.  There was a girl in the group who was part Russian and loved all kinds of pickled things, especially okra and wanted to include that into our meal.  Everyone was against it except her, but she was very firm about her desire to make it, even coming in by herself to pickle the okra several weeks before the dinner was to happen.

I remember her cracking open the jar and pulling out a spear, and the resulting slime that came slithering off almost made me vomit right there.  Then she took a bite, and a giant chunk of slime was hanging between her lips and the okra spear.  It was horrifying!  I absolutely did not want anything to do with it, and true to my expectations, it was quite a gooey bite. 

Fast forward to over a year later and my Hubby bringing a bag of okra home one day.  My look of horror upon seeing the bag of little green spears really amused him and he insisted that he would prepare a delicious dish with them.  I was extremely suspicious and really did not intend to even eat a single one, but the expectant look on his face made me stop and try it.  He simply steamed them, drizzled them with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkled them with sea salt.  It didn't look too horrible.  And when I bit into it ... there was hardly any sliminess.  He explained to me that when you overcook okra or pickle it is when it becomes very slimy.  I actually ate 5 okra spears.  And the next time he brought them home, I ate a ton of them and thoroughly enjoyed them!  Now I love to experiment with them all the time, and this is my latest delicious experiment.  And let me tell you, Hubby was right - the secret to making this not slimy is by not overcooking the okra.  Try it, seriously.  Yummy!

Molondrones Guisados (Okra Stew):

Nicely Spicy Stew - Quite Filling

Yields: 4-6 servings

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, 1/4'd and sliced, about 1 cup
1 green pepper, small diced, about 1 cup
1/2 orange pepper, small diced, about 1/2 cup
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 large tomatoes, medium diced, about 3 cups
2 cups okra, sliced into 1/4"-1/2" sliced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 small or 1 1/2 large boullion cubes
1/2 cup filtered water
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Cayenne pepper, as desired (I used 1/8 teaspoon)
1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
Additional filtered water as needed

1.  In a large pot over medium heat, add the olive oil.  Once the oil is hot, add the green and orange peppers, onion, jalapeno pepper and minced garlic.  Cook for about 2-3 minutes, or until the ingredients are fragrant.
2.  Add the chopped tomato, tomato paste and sliced okra and stir together, cooking for an additional 5 minutes. 
3.  Add the boullion cubes, water, black pepper, onion and garlic powder, cayenne pepper and vinegar.  Stir everything together and lower heat.  Allow the stew to cook for about 15 minutes, stirring periodically and adding additional water as needed.  Cook until the okra can be pierced with a fork, but still has a bite.  This will decrease its slimy potential.  When okra is over cooked is when it becomes very slimy.

Serve with a slice of warm toasty bread to soak up any of the leftover juices!




  1. I recently returned from DR where I had okra as a "Dominican Specialty" and it was SO good! I love okra and I was looking for an authentic DR recipe and I think yours is it !

    Thanks for the post.

    1. Thanks! Glad to hear it! My Dominican mother-in-law makes the tastiest okra dishes ever. Wish we lived closer to her so she could teach me more of her cooking tricks!