Okra is one of those vegetables that doesn’t get much love. Sure, we love it dusted in cornmeal and fried to golden brown perfection, but that gets a pass; it’s nearly impossible not to love a deep-fried, crunchy vegetable!
Unless you grew up in the South eating dishes like roasted fresh okra, you might not know the glory that is grilled okra. It’s unbelievably easy to make, and serving it with a smoky dip really accentuates the char from the grill. If you’re on the fence about this Southern favorite, we say it’s time to give this underrated vegetable a chance.
How do you cook okra so it’s not slimy?
Here’s the deal: Most people’s objection to okra is the slime factor. You don’t seem to notice it (or mind) when okra is thickening up your gumbo, but some people get weirded out even slicing the vegetable. One nick, and out comes the slime. We get it; it doesn’t sound too appetizing.
We’ll let you in on a little secret: High-temperature cooking neutralizes the slime and reduces it to a barely noticeable factor. In the case of sauteeing or frying okra, you can prepare the pods by steaming them whole until they turn bright green, about three minutes. When you slice your okra into bite-sized pieces, almost nothing will ooze out and ruin your day.
For grilled okra, no preparation is necessary. Simply follow the recipe below, skewering the okra pods whole and tossing them straight onto the grill. If you cut them in half to better fit on your skewers, they’ll still taste great but be aware you’ll have to deal with the slime in the process.
How to Make Smoky Grilled Okra
Yield: About four servings
- 1 pound medium okra pods
- Metal or soaked wooden skewers
- Half a lemon
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Your favorite dipping sauce (we’d recommend remoulade or a zippy curry dip)
Step 1: Skewer your okra
Depending on the size of your okra, you can likely skewer the okra whole. For very large pods, thread the skewer lengthwise through the entire okra. If you want to fit more than one large okra on each skewer, you’ll need to slice the pods in half. With small- or medium-sized pods, things are easier; you can thread the skewer through the middle of the okra, fitting about eight pods per skewer.
Editor’s Tip: If you’re weirded out by the slime, avoid chopping the okra and letting the liquid out. Don’t even trim off the stems. Your fears will soon be neutralized by the high heat of the grill, so keep the okra whole until you get there.
Step 2: Preheat the grill
Prepare a gas or charcoal grill on the hottest heat setting, turning all the burners on high for a gas grill or lighting a full chimney of charcoal. Close the lid and allow the heat to build for 15 minutes.
Step 3: Grill ’em up
Now comes the easy part! Place the okra skewers on the hottest part of the grill. Cook until they are lightly charred, about 3 minutes a side. Remove the okra from the grill and squeeze the lemon half over the skewers. Sprinkle the okra with kosher salt and serve hot with the dipping sauce of your choice.