Okra, I’ve done you wrong. For years, I’ve been telling okra-haters—of whom there are many—that they’d love okra if they’d only try it fried. Any other way but fried, I’d insist, and it would turn into slimy goo.
Now, thanks to Harold McGee, I know the truth: okra’s potential sliminess comes out to play as a thickener in soups and stews, but it “can be minimized by using dry cooking methods (frying, baking).” As this recipe shows beautifully, another dry cooking method is pan-roasting in a hot cast-iron skillet until it’s charred and tender. This amazing technique lets okra taste like okra, not just hot, crisp breading. (Not that there’s anything at all wrong with hot, crisp breading, mind you. It’s possible that I served this with fried catfish.)
I thought I liked okra before. Now I really, really like it.
3 ears of corn, shucked
2 tablespoons olive oil, with more for brushing pan
1 pound okra, trimmed and halved lengthwise
1 clove garlic
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
Cook the corn in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, about 3 minutes. Drain and cool under running water. Working over a bowl, cut the kernels from the cobs.
Heat a large cast-iron skillet until very hot and brush lightly with oil. Toss okra with 1 tablespoon oil and season with salt. Cook the okra in batches (don’t crowd the pan—you want each pod to get nice and charred), turning once, until charred and tender, about 3 minutes per batch. Transfer to platter.
Toss corn kernels with remaining tablespoon of oil and salt. Add corn and garlic to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly charred in spots, about three minutes.
Combine corn, okra, and chopped basil. Serve hot or at room temperature.