My Ooey Gooey Love: Okra and Tomatoes

For a very long time, I thought okra was a Japanese vegetable. It sounds very Japanese (there is even a food called “okara” that is made out of something that resembles tofu bits – very delicious) and the slimy texture is something that we Japanese people adore. Boy, was I wrong! It was only recently that I learned that okra is a flowering plant with West African origin. I should have known since this ingredient is used in many Southern cooking, like fried okra and gumbo. Wherever it came from, all I can say is that okra is absolutely delicious.

I really enjoy food with a very distinct slimy texture. I like natto, a fermented soybean, especially poured on top of steaming hot rice, and tororo, or Japanese yam when grated and poured on cold soba noodles, so it was very natural that I would transition my “slime” love to okra, especially since these little green, jalapeno-looking plants are much easier to get a hold of at a regular supermarket, than its Japanese slippery counterparts.

I’m a Southern Cooking novice. Everything I know about this type of cuisine is from watching Paula Deen, but it’s really difficult to get past the amount of oil and butter she puts in every dish! So needless to say, I know pretty much nothing about it. While searching for a good okra recipe to try, I came across many recipes for okra and tomatoes. I had no idea that this stew was a very popular and traditional Southern dish! I came across the recipe by Ms. Deen with amazing reviews (and surprisingly didn’t use a pound of butter!) so I decided to give it a try. Who am I to argue with the ultimate Southern Belle when it comes to traditional Southern food?

Okra and Tomatoes
Inspired by Paula Deen, and slightly altered by me

2 slices of bacon, diced
2 onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 (15 oz) cans of diced tomatoes
1 chicken bouillon cube
1 tablespoon agave nectar
2 cups fresh okra, cut into half or quartered
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Tabasco sauce, optional

Cook the bacon in olive oil for about a minute. Add onion and garlic and sauté until onion become translucent. Add tomatoes, chicken bouillon, agave nectar, and cook for about 10 minutes. Add okra, salt and pepper, and cook for another 10 minutes until okra is nice and tender. That’s it. And this dish is delicious. I sprinkled a little bit of Tabasco for heat.  This recipe is quick and delicious and I’ll definitely try it again, and again!