We love it when the bright green okra starts to show up in the bins at our local Monterey Market. It means summer is coming, and it is so eye-catching with its bright green color and cool shape. (I realize as I type that, maybe I should paint some!) It is an essential crop in many countries due to its high nutritional value and antioxidant properties and has a mild taste and a unique texture, and inside the pod are small edible seeds. I always thought of it as gooey and used only for gumbo but a few years ago I learned there many different ways to use it, not just to thicken a sauce. Our favorite is the simplest of all – cut into wheels, tossed with olive oil, flake or coarse salt and fresh ground pepper then seared in a hot pan – which eliminates any gooeyness and caramelizes the edges. My husband loves to make this dish and takes great pride flipping them in the air in the pan, so on nights like this, I step aside and let him do his thing. We love it served with grilled or seared salmon, seasoned only with olive oil, fresh ground pepper, Kosher salt, and garnished with a lemon wedge.
Pan Seared Okra and Simple Salmon Supper
- large heavy pan or cast iron skillet
- big bowl
- cast iron grill pan
- 3 cups fresh okra, chopped into 1/2 inch wheels
- 2 tbsp olive oil, divided extra virgin
- 2 tsp coarse sea salt or Kosher salt to taste
- 2 tsp fresh ground pepper to taste
- 1 lb fresh salmon, skin on, deboned, cut into two portions
- Rinse and dry off the okra of well, then slice into 1/2 inch wheels, discarding the hard top.
- Place the okra into a large bowl and add 2 teaspoons of the olive oil, the salt and pepper and toss to coat. Add more oil or salt and pepper if needed.
- Heat a large heavy bottom skillet medium high for a few minutes until hot but not smoking. Add the okra to the pan in one layer. Use remaining teaspoon of olive oil if it seems to need more.
- Leave the okra to sear a bit on one side for 3-5 minutes, and when starting to brown, flip with spatula or by shaking and tossing them in the pan, allowing to cook another 5 minutes. Continue to gently flip or toss for a few more minutes, until they are nicely browned but soft inside.
- Finish with a little more flakey salt on top and serve.
Meanwhile, for the salmon:
- In a separate cast iron grill pan, (or just cast iron pan) coat and season two 1/2 pound portions of salmon on all sides with olive oil, Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper.
- Heat your pan on medium high for a few minutes until very hot, but not smoking. Do NOT oil the pan. Place the salmon flesh side down for about 4 minutes without moving, so you get the grill marks or a nice crust, depending on which pan you are using.
- Using a big spatular and/or tongs, gently turn the fish over and reduce the heat down to medium, cooking for another 3-4 more minutes depending on thickness. Serve with the seared okra and lemon wedges.