Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Favorite Food of Lightning

I’ve had a terrible time with static electricity. Someone told me that my ions are reversed. In the fall, when I return so reluctantly to being shod, the shocking starts. As the winter deepens the jolts get stronger, until I never touch anything metal, like a car door, without pulling my sweater down to insulate against what will otherwise be an experience just short of grabbing an electric fence. It causes cussing. My brother-in-law, who knows his physics, suggested that I might affix a little ground wire to drag behind me, but didn’t say to what.

My Yeye, on the other hand, said that I should consider the shocks as kisses from Shango, the Yoruba Orisa of lightning, justice, drums, and dancing. That sounds better, as I understand he’s good-looking, when he’s a fellow.

I’ve read that his favorite food is okra, and I’m very fond of that too. When picking okra, amongst the sticky prickling and gorgeous pale yellow flowers, it seems to me that a very erotic scent lingers on the fingers that pick it.

In Cebah’s kitchen okra is usually sliced in half-inch wheels, tossed in seasoned cornmeal and fried, and that can’t be beaten, but this is an unusual and delicious variation:

Dan's Kiss of Shango:

Slice tender pods of okra into half-inch cross sections. In a suribachi, or with a mortar and pestle, grind a large clove of garlic in a 1/2 teaspoon of salt, then mix with juice of a lemon. Pour this mixture over the okra and toss it to coat. In a bowl, combine a half cup of stoneground cornmeal, 1/2 tsp of powdered tumeric, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Toss the okra in the seasoned meal and fry it in a 1/2 inch of hot oil until crisp and brown.

Or try this traditional African recipe for fried okra:

Make a paste of 4 tablespoons of lemon juice, 2 cloves of minced or crushed garlic, 2 teaspoons of tumeric, 2 teaspoons of curry powder, (much better to make this from scratch…but for now… just make sure it’s fresh at least), 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, (powdered) and one teaspoon of salt. Split twelve young okra pods to the cap, and spread the paste inside, then press the pods back together and fry in hot oil till browned.

These recipes will feed at least one person, maybe two. Its unlikely you could grow enough to make more than a taste for Shango. Be sure to smell your fingers when you pick the okra.

(On this historic evening, I dedicate my post to our next president, Barack Obama; a real leader - who embodies the justice of Shango in our time, and whose beauty will prevail.)


Kim said...

So in the second recipe, the pods are not breaded? I can't wait to try this! I've got okra lying around waiting for a new recipe.

AND . . . Right On Barack Obama!

Dan Dutton said...

I thought of you when I made this post - cause I know how you love okra.

The pods in the 2nd recipe are just fried, no breading. But it occurs to me that they would be very nice dipped in a tempura batter.

Tempura - thought of as Japanese - was actually "originated, or at least devised, centuries ago - by the Spanish and Portuguese who established missions in southern Japan in the late sixteenth century. The dish caught on with the Japanese..."

(Japanese Cooking; A Simple Art - Shizuo Tsuji - I can't recommend this cookbook too much!)

Tempura Batter:

In a mixing bowl, lightly beat an egg yolk, then pour in a cup of ice water and give this a FEW strokes. Add I cup sifted flour all at once. Stroke a few times with chopsticks or a fork, just until ingredients are loosely combined. The batter should be very lumpy. If you overmix, the batter will be sticky and the coating will turn out oily and heavy. Mix the batter with the least amount of movement. (If you need more batter...) Make the second batch of batter as the first is used up. (or in other words, you shouldn't try doubling this recipe. As it is it will serve two.

Cebah really likes this okra recipe, from the same source -

Savory Okra: (okra with wasabi & soyu - Okura Wasabi-joyu)

Boil 20 small pods of okra in lightly salted water till bright green, about 2 minutes. Rinse under cold running water and drain. Cut okra on the diagonal into 1/4 inch thick pieces. Mix 1 tsp. of grated wasabi with 2 tabs of soy sauce and 1 tab of mirin (sweetened rice wine) - and blend well with the okra.
Serve chilled or at room temperature.

You can replace the mirin, which is hard to get in Somerset, with a little sugar dissolved in sake or water, say 1/2 tsp sugar in a tab of water. Or omit it entirely.

Pig and Peaches said...

Okra is king in this household, since I have tried Cebah's and the version with turmeric. The pre- rolling around in lemon and garlic makes okra even more tantalizing!
And, as a graying American, & having lived through the last 45 years since Dr. King's dream was spoken...I was humbled to my knees to witness this moment in history. When I saw 80,000..eighty thousand people waiting to here a future president...I was totally amazed. His wife is a symbol of strength as a woman, wife and mom...his daughters adorable. Hope Colin or Jaxon marry Sasha! I was at a very RED cocktail party last night~~didn't know how red until a very bejeweled lady said, oh, you cannot support that man, he's a bisexual and his wife's thesis is locked
in a vault at Princeton because it is so anti-American. I ask you, if you were a black woman living in this country, what would your thesis sound like??/ And to be married to a biracial, accused of bisexual man, would you be on the march for some better conditions to raise your children? I thought later, perhaps the bejeweled lady was ignorant enough to believe biracial and bisexual are one and the same. Sorry for the rant...Eat okra!

Pig and Peaches said...

to hear not here! That's what happens when you rant!