Scallops and okra, plantain cobbler and a Nigerian take on fried chicken – contemporary west African cooking from Lopè Ariyo

Scallops and grilled okra

Okra is that vegetable people are scared to try because it’s notorious for being slimy. Arguably, its “slime” is its best characteristic, but for those who disagree this recipe provides a way to enjoy okra. Its fresh flavours are paired with sweetness from the caramelised onions and zest from the apples and the sumac. The portions are rather conservative so they can be doubled for something more filling.

Serves 4
For the onions
unsalted butter 20g
red onion 1 small, thinly sliced
honey 2 tbsp

For the apples
apples 2
lemon juice 4 tbsp
butter 20g
sugar 1 tbsp

For the scallops
olive oil 2 tbsp
scallops 12 large

For the okra
olive oil 2 tbsp
okra 180g, halved lengthways
sumac 2 tsp
salt and black pepper to taste

For the onions, melt the butter in a pan over a low heat and add the red onion. Cover and cook for 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes so it doesn’t stick. Once the onion is translucent and browned, stir in the honey and 2 tablespoons of water and cook for another 5 minutes until dark. Keep stirring until most – if not all – of the liquid is gone. Don’t take your eyes off the onion at this point as this is the easiest moment for it to burn.

Fill a small bowl with water and 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice. Core the apples and cut into small cubes. Place into the lemon water and set aside.

In a large frying pan, heat the olive oil for the scallops over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the scallops with salt and pepper. Once the pan is almost smoking, add the scallops and cook for 3 minutes on each side, pushing down slightly, until golden brown. Repeat in batches. Place the cooked scallops on a plate and cover to keep warm.

Once the scallops are ready, melt the butter for the apples in a small saucepan. Add the remaining lemon juice and sugar and cook until the sugar has dissolved. Drain the apple cubes and stir into the melted lemon butter. Cook on medium heat for 5 to 6 minutes. When ready, the apples will be slightly translucent with a bit of bite to them.

For the okra, in another frying pan, add the olive oil and place on a medium-high heat. Add the halved okra seed-side down into the pan and cook for 2 minutes until the seeds have a golden char.

To serve, weave the okra and caramelised onions between the scallops. Dress with the cooked apples and sprinkle over the sumac, salt and pepper.

Source : The Guardian