Pan-searing preserves okra’s brightness and crunch without muting its flavor, making this preparation a light alternative to battered and fried okra.

A thin coating of cornmeal echoes okra’s nutty element, and fresh hot chiles add fruity heat. The color and fruity aspect of the red chile is especially nice here, but green chile may be substituted instead.


8ouncesfresh okra

14teaspoonfine sea salt

14cupcoarsely ground cornmeal

2tablespoonspeanut oil (may substitute safflower or sunflower oil)

1serrano or jalapeño chile pepper, seeded and minced (preferably red; see headnote)


Step 1

Trim and discard the cone-shaped tops of the okra pods, then cut the pods into 1/2-inch slices, toss with the salt in a mixing bowl; let them sit for 10 minutes. (This will help to produce enough moisture that the cornmeal will adhere to the okra). Add the cornmeal and toss to coat; you may not need the full amount.

Step 2

Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a wide, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil shimmers, add half the okra (no more than will cook in one layer); cook for 5 to 7 minutes, tossing occasionally until bright green, crisp, and lightly browned in spots.

Step 3

Add half of the serrano or jalapeño, toss for a few seconds, and turn out onto a serving plate. Repeat with the remaining oil, okra and chile pepper.

Step 4

Serve right away.

From food writer Emily Horton.

Recipe tested by Kara Elder; email questions to voraciously@washpost.com.

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Calories: 100; Total Fat: 7 g; Saturated Fat: 2 g; Cholesterol: 0 mg; Sodium: 135 mg; Carbohydrates: 10 g; Dietary Fiber: 3 g; Sugars: 0 g; Protein: 2 g.