Stavroula, the cook and mother of the owner of Ithomi Restaurant (overlooking Ancient Messine), deep-fries her okra first in this recipe and explained that this stops the okra going mucilaginous as it usually does when cooked.
This is a Greek side dish.
- ⅓ cup (80 ml) olive oil
- 2 large red onions, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 500 ml (2 cups) fresh tomato concasse from 1 kg whole tomatoes (see Note)
- extra virgin olive oil, for deep-frying
- 1 kg fresh young okra
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
1. Cover the base of a large frying pan with olive oil and place over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic, and cook until translucent but not brown, stirring occasionally. Add the tomatoes, salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10-15 minutes or until it thickens and reduces slightly.
2. Pre-heat oven to 170°C.
3. Meanwhile heat a large saucepan or deep-fryer with enough olive oil to cover the okra. Wash okra and remove stalk or top ends. Deep-fry in batches for 3 minutes only and drain on absorbent paper.
4. Layer half the tomato sauce in a large deep baking pan. Cover with okra and then ladle remaining tomato sauce and spread over the top.
5. Bake in the oven for 15-30 minutes depending on the power of your oven. A longer cooking time reduces and intensifies the tomato sauce.
• To make tomato concasse, peel, de-seed and chop ripe tomatoes, retaining any juices. In winter, tinned tomatoes and tomato paste can be substituted.