Cast Iron

Shrimp and Okra Stew

September  6, 2014
7 Ratings
  • Prep time 30 minutes
  • Cook time 30 minutes
  • Serves 6
Author Notes

Some lucky people grew up eating okra; there are even families with rich okra histories that they pass on from generation to generation. I am not one of those lucky people.

I came late to okra–or at least my love for it did. Since I didn't come from a family of okra-eaters, I always remained skeptical of the vegetable. My relationship with it was like that of boys and girls at an elementary school dance: standing at opposite corners of the room. It's not that I didn't like okra–it was that I had no idea what to do with it. I preferred to stay in my comfort zone and stick to eating green beans.

On a whim one summer, I planted a row of okra in my garden. And even though I thought I was too far north for this southern beauty to thrive, it did.

I thought that my feelings for okra would be nothing more than a summer crush, but I soon realized that the relationship had developed into a full-blown affair. The proof was in the number of times that succotash made its way to my dinner table–and for that matter, okra stewed with tomatoes, breaded okra, grilled okra, gumbo with okra, and okra with black-eyed peas. You get the point. That summer, I learned to look past okra's faults–namely, its sliminess–and discover its inner beauty.

Okra is not a vegetable to be cooked al dente; it yearns for long, slow simmering, which makes it the perfect vegetable for stews. And, like onions, okra is wonderful caramelized and tossed in any vegetable medley.

If you have never cooked with okra–or even eaten it–this recipe for Shrimp and Okra Stew is the perfect place to start. This casual, almost-one-pot stew comes together quickly, and the addition of smoked bacon makes it hard not to like. Hopefully, your first date with okra will develop into a loving, long-term relationship (just like mine). —thirschfeld

What You'll Need
  • 1 pound shrimp, raw, peeled, and deveined
  • 2 cups okra, tops removed and sliced about 1/8-inch thick
  • 2 ounces bacon, diced (I prefer double-smoked bacon)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, sliced thinly
  • 2 cups 3 to 4 tomatoes, peeled and crushed with your hand or diced-reserve with juices and then add enough water to make 2 cups
  • 1 teaspoon fresh or dried thyme, minced
  • 2 teaspoons flat leaf parsley, minced
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups Jasmine rice (I use Lundberg Farms)
  • 2 1/4 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  1. Chop all of your ingredients before beginning to cook.
  2. Place the rice into a heavy-bottomed, 3 1/2 quart enameled Dutch oven. Add 1 tablespoon of butter and the bay leaf.
  3. Add the water and place the pot over high heat. Bring the water to a boil, then turn the heat down to a simmer and cover the pot with a tight fitting lid. Take note: the heat should be turned down to whatever the lowest heat setting on your stove is. Let the rice simmer for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the rice sit for another 20 minutes (I set a timer).
  4. Meanwhile, cook the stew. Place a 12-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon and begin to render the fat.
  5. Once the fat begins to release, add the okra. Season the okra with salt and pepper. Stir the okra as it cooks, taking note of the gelatinous strings that chase your spoon around the pan. Let the okra cook until the strands begin to dissipate and the okra becomes soft.
  6. Add the garlic and red chile flakes to the pan. Cook until the garlic becomes fragrant.
  7. Add the butter and let it melt, then add the shrimp. Cook the shrimp until it becomes pink, then add the tomato. Stir everything together to combine, taste, and adjust the seasoning. Stir in the thyme and half of the parsley. Let the shrimp finish cooking and the flavors meld, about 10 minutes. Add the rest of the parsley.
  8. Serve the stew and juices over hot rice.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Uglyfish
  • Suma Chandrasekaran
    Suma Chandrasekaran
  • Boots Ranch
    Boots Ranch
  • chris
  • Asa Fulton
    Asa Fulton

26 Reviews

BettySLP August 21, 2023
I lost my recipe for Shrimp and Okra stew in the Camp Fire. I looked online for a replacement and this was as close as I could get to what I made in the past. I did eliminate the bacon fat and butter and substituted olive oil. I also added half of a medium to large onion and generous amounts of Trade Joe's Umami and South African Smoked seasonings to replace the smokiness in the bacon fat. It was DELICIOUS!
Susan F. October 29, 2020
I've made this recipe again and again. It is so easy, simple and delicious. Thank you!
Bethesda K. October 19, 2020
Great way to use up my okra harvest - delicious!
Uglyfish May 16, 2020
Thanks for such a wonderful recipe. I tried this tonight. Like previous reviewer stated it's the prep work that takes up the time, but it is worth it. My friends all praised the delicious dish.
Suma C. January 15, 2019
Made this as written except scaled back on the butter to lighten it up a bit. Added some hot sauce at the end. Loved it!
Boots R. June 10, 2018
I don't usually do reviews but I was searching for a recipe with okra and came across this one. Being from South Louisiana I tweeked it. Used sausage in place of bacon and rotel instead of crushed tomatoes. Added hot sauce to mixture to add a little spice. I will definitely make again. I loved it. Quick and very creole.
tabullah October 23, 2016
Excellent! I have never cooked with fresh okra before so I'm glad I chose this recipe. So easy and so full of flavor. The only change I made was using pancetta instead of bacon as that's what I had on hand. I will definitely make this one again.
chop C. December 20, 2015
Made this dish for the fist time last night. My wife after eating two bites immediately commented how delicious the dish was and that it was "guest worthy". I agree. For me at least I think more okra and more tomatoes (I blanched to remove the skin) two cups of tomatoes and hand crushed are needed to make it more "stewish". Nevertheless, the flavor profiles in this dish rock.
Love2Cook March 1, 2015
I decided to make this dish on yesterday and oh my, it was good! In the process now of reheating leftovers and it will be finished tonight! Very easy to make. Most of the work is in the prep work, but necessary. Cause when it time to add the ingredients during the cooking process, you want to just throw it in there. Loving It!
chris November 8, 2014
I "basically" followed the recipe ... used pancetta instead of bacon, and frozen okra; a box of Pomi crushed tomatoes, and added a tablespoon of fish sauce. Absolutely delicious; I served the stew/gumbo over brown jasmine rice, and passed chopped green onions and lime wedges. My husband, who is from NOLA, called it gumbo and happily ate seconds. As someone else mentioned, I was thrilled that I didn't need to make a roux!
Asa F. October 28, 2014
I made this recipe tonite... it is really delicious and oh so easy, not having to make a roux! I used what I had on hand, so I used 1/4 cup of fresh Tabasco peppers for the dried flakes, Tennessee country smoked bacon (the double-smoked German stuff is superior, but the closest place that carries it is 230 miles away!) for the mass-produced junk, and cilantro in lieu of parsley. I felt like steamy dry-baked potato, so I tried it in lieu of sushi-grade medium and short grain white which I use for general cooking. (The potato works, but the high-grade rices are better for this recipe.) Chinese BLACK-grained rice (not sweet black desert rice) is perfect with well-seasoned grilled salmon and roast duck. Your outstanding recipe would be perfect served on a multi-grain mixture of black, red, brown, and other-colored rices some oriental markets carry. I will use this next week when I repeat this shimp and okra stew! Thanks for this great idea!
sharon M. September 29, 2014
so worth the minimal effort this dish requires to come together. the favors are layered and the eventual taste may remind you of a favored gumbo that would take so much longer to create. oh..btw...2oz of bacon is (1) average slice, but i would use two.
i will certainly make this dish again (and again).
ghainskom September 28, 2014
Simple but tasty
jodean September 21, 2014
Made this tonight... sooo yummy we ate every drop.
Carl September 20, 2014
Great recipe. Made it tonight and we both had two helpings. Would only serve 6 if you had a salad first. A good crusty baguette went well with it.
zaqary September 16, 2014
yum, just made this and am happily stuffed!
J D. September 16, 2014
Can't wait to give this a go. Grew up in SW Louisiana eating my Mom's shrimp and okra stew. Loved that stuff. It was more Cajun than Creole with no tomato, and a simple roux base. Can't wait to see what the interesting addition of bacon does!
Vee September 15, 2014
My mother would let the okra sit in vinegar for about ten minutes, rise, and cook. This methospd eliminates the gelatinous substance frm the okra.
kate September 14, 2014
Made this tonight and it was delicious! I'm always on the lookout for delicious okra recipes. I added a bit more smoked bacon than called for (because...more bacon always, right?) and I used a 28oz can of diced san marzanos for the tomatoes and it was perfect. Only note would be that this seemed closer to 4 servings than 6. Will definitely make again - thanks!
chris September 14, 2014
I love okra, especially fresh okra! This looks like a tasty shrimp gumbo, without having to take the time to make a roux. I make stock out of my shrimp shells, then freeze it in small containers. Easy to throw in the pot when you need a little more liquid in your seafood dishes.