Fried Okra with Tomato Jam

Jonathan Banta

The Atlantic Room at the Ocean Course, Kiawah Island Golf Resort, Kiawah Island, SC

Okra is stuffed with gooey pimento cheese, quickly fried to golden perfection, and served with a sweet-and-tangy tomato jam.


Tomato Jam:

  • 5 large tomatoes
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced small
  • 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped thyme 

Pimento Cheese:

  • 1/2 pound (about 5 cups) Tillamook Cheddar, grated
  • 2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons sambal oelek chile paste
  • 1 cup mayonnaise 
  • 1 tablespoon diced pimento peppers


  • 2 cups flour
  • 4 tablespoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 bottle beer
  • 30 pieces (about 13 ounces) okra
  • 4 cups canola oil
  • 2 cups  cornstarch


Make the tomato jam: fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Using a sharp knife, cut a shallow “X” on the bottom of each tomato. Remove the core of each tomato. Add the scored and cored tomatoes to the boiling water and cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until the tomato skins split open. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the tomatoes to a large bowl of ice water to cool. Once the tomatoes have cooled, remove the skin and cut them into a medium dice. (Note: reserve the boiling water and ice bath to blanch the okra.)

In a saucepot, add the chopped tomatoes, onions, rice wine vinegar, sugar, and thyme. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture reduces by half, 35 to 40 minutes.

Make the pimento cheese: in a large bowl, combine all ingredients thoroughly.

Make the beer batter for the okra: combine the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Whisk in the beer slowly until mixture is smooth. Refrigerate until needed.

Prepare the okra: wash the okra thoroughly. Bring the same pot and water used to blanch the tomatoes to a boil. Add the okra and cook for 30 seconds. Transfer the okra to the same ice bath used for the tomatoes to shock and stop the cooking. Once the okra has cooled, cut the okra down the side lengthwise and remove the seeds.

To stuff the okra, begin by adding a small amount of pimento cheese inside the deseeded okra. Once all of the okra are stuffed, place them on a sheet tray in the refrigerator and allow them to chill.

In a fryer or large Dutch oven, heat the oil to 350°F. Remove the okra from the refrigerator and toss in the cornstarch until they're lightly coated. Once each piece of okra is evenly coated, dip each piece into the chilled beer batter until they are fully coated, letting the excess batter drip off.

Drop the okra in the hot oil and fry in batches until golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Place the fried okra on a resting rack and season with salt. To serve, top the okra with a dollop of tomato jam, or place the jam in a bowl for dipping.



Makes 30 pieces, about 5 servings