I can’t recall which of the French Caribbean islands my friend was from (I’ve been disconnected from him for a few years now, so I can’t ask) but this is a dish he taught me how to make. Okra (say ochro in the Caribbean) in a rich tomato sauce served over steamed rice, with stewed fish.. a dish we made (and enjoyed) during our college days in Hamilton.
1 lb okra (cut into 1 cm wheels)
1 can tomato (I used stewed tomatoes)
4 tablespoon veg oil (divided)
1 medium onion (diced)
3-5 cloves garlic (smashed)
4 sprigs thyme
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon pepper flakes
1 tablespoon golden brown sugar
1 1/2 cup chicken stock
Important! Please go though the full list of ingredients if making this gluten free to make sure it meets with your gluten free dietary needs. Especially the stock you use. Speaking about sock, I used Chicken stock, but to keep this vegan / vegetarian, please use vegetable stock.
Wash and air dry the okra, then trim (the ends off) the okra and cut into 1 cm thick wheels.
Heat 3 tablespoon of vegetable oil on a medium heat in a wide pan. Toss in the okra and stir well. The goal is to get the edges brown.
5-7 minutes later, turn the heat down to low and remove the okra. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the same pan, toss in the onion, garlic and thyme. Cook for 3-4 minutes. During this time you may add the black pepper and pepper flakes (leave out if you don’t want the dish spicy).
Create a space in the middle of the pan and add the tomato paste and stir well – cook for a minute or two. This will caramelize the natural sugars in the tomato paste and give the dish a lovely sweet undertone.
Add the can of stewed tomato (540ml) and smash the tomato with your spoon to break it down a bit. Add the bay leaf, red wine vinegar and salt. To help balance the flavors, add the brown sugar.
Turn the heat to medium, add the stock, bring it to a boil and reduce to a smimmer for 8-10 minutes.
Now add the pre-cook okra to the pot and bring back to a boil. That okra will absorb all the tomato goodness and plump up. Feel free to remove the thyme stems and discard.
5-6 minutes after adding the okra and it should be done. (cook longer if it’s too runny), taste for salt and adjust accordingly (* chicken stock had a sodium element to it so it was to my liking) and keep in mind that it will thicken further as it cools.
Enjoy on steamed rice! BTW, you can add chunks of your fav fish to this dish if you wanted. Just adjust the seasoning accordingly.
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