Even though okra is enjoyed in parts of Southeast Asia and served steamed or as tempura in Japan, my parents were first introduced to the deep-fried version of okra in the South. It’s hard to beat the taste of hot, freshly fried okra alongside a plate of barbecued pork and a glass of sweet iced tea!
My mother started cooking okra in stir-fries so we could enjoy it without the excess fat of fried okra and slime of the steamed version. Keeping it whole eliminates the “goo” factor, but if you prefer it sliced, a teaspoon of an acidic ingredient such as vinegar or lemon juice helps reduce the sliminess. Tomatoes are a colorful, flavorful addition to this dish, adding zing without the sodium of extra soy sauce. Toss them in gently at the end and be careful not to overcook. —Natalie Keng, from her new cookbook, Egg Rolls & Sweet Tea: Asian Inspired, Southern Style