Traditional Yoruba (Nigerian) Cooking Part V – The Okra Stew

The Stew portion of the traditional Yoruba meal is a two-parter, with each part having it’s own function. In the previous posts we’ve  made the Pepper Stew, in which your meats are cooked. We will now make the second part, the Okro (or as known in America, Okra) stew.  Compared to the pepper stew, Okra stew is very simple and quick to prepare.

If you’ve had any experience with Okra you will know that it has a slightly slimy texture. People either love or hate that about Okra. It is this same property that makes it an important part of this meal. The Okra stew we will be making today serves as a kind of lubricant for getting the Pounded Yam meal down your throat. Pounded yam (as you will see in the next post) is quite sticky. If you ate it by itself it would stick to your throat, which could be a little uncomfortable. The Okra stew rectifies this, in addition to it’s own unique flavor.

Depending on your locale, fresh Okra could be hard to find, but I find that most grocery stores carry frozen Okra. Today we will use the frozen Okra in this stew. I will show how to use the fresh Okra in a future post.
There is one traditional Nigerian condiment that is commonly used in Okra stew that I have omitted because I can’t find it locally. It’s Yoruba name is Iru. It’s known in english as fermented locust bean. To me it gives off a kind of Umami flavor found in indigenous asian foods. I must warn you that Iru  is a very PUNGENT condiment. In other words, the stuff stinks to high heaven, and is not for everyone. But boy oh boy, it takes your Okra to the next level of deliciousness.

Ingredients

12 oz bag frozen cut Okra
1 tsp salt
1 C water
1/2 Tbsp dried shrimp
1 bouillion cube

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African Style Dried Shrimp (found in an African grocery store)

Method

1. Chop down  the frozen okra in a food processor into a slightly rough consistency, being careful not to over-pulverize.

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2. Place the water, salt, dried shrimp and bouillon cube in a small saucepan, and bring to a low boil.

3. Once the water starts to boil, turn down the heat and add the chopped okra.  Cook on low heat for approximately 3-5 minutes, or until tender to the bite.  Stir periodically to keep from boiling over.

Set aside until ready to serve with the rest of the meal.

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That is it! Wasn’t that easy?

On monday, we will be making the main event, the Iyan  (pounded yam).

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Part 1: Introduction
Part 2: The Ingredients/Shopping List
Part 3: Prepping the meats
Part 4: Making the Stew/Obe Ata
Part 5: Okra Stew!
Part 6: The Pounded Yam (Iyan)
Part 7: Putting it all together/Conclusion

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