By Edouardo Jordan
This dish highlights Southern cuisine’s transition from Africa to America. I was influenced by gumbo—I like a dark roux—but wanted to do something different. I settled on okra and tomatoes. At Salare, we do our take on the traditional Ethiopian spice mix, Berbere. Our version is not as hot, so it became a workhorse spice for us. Serve with a grain, such as rice or cornbread for a warm, satisfying meal.
3 medium-sized onions, diced
1-2 ounces olive oil
5 garlic gloves, sliced thin
3 cans San Marzano tomatoes, crushed
2 tablespoons Berbere spice mix*
3 pounds okra, sliced into rings (may use frozen)
African birds eye chili, finely ground to taste (or substitute 1/2 scotch bonnet pepper or 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper)
Salt, to taste
Aged sherry vinegar, to taste
In a large pot sauté onions in oil on medium heat. Add garlic and continue to sweat ingredients for five minutes on medium heat. Stir frequently to avoid browning. Add Berbere spice mix. As soon as you smell the spices, add tomatoes and cook on medium for 30 minutes. Stir to avoid sticking. Add okra, cook until tender. Season pot with salt and vinegar to taste. For more heat, add more cayenne. Spoon over rice or enjoy with cornbread. Serves 12-16
Salare’s Berbere Mix
Berbere is a traditional Ethiopian paste or spice mix made from garlic, cayenne pepper, coriander, and other spices, often used in stews. It is usually quite spicy; Salare’s version is more mellow.
3 teaspoons garlic powder
1 tablespoons black pepper
4 1/2 teaspoons cardamom, ground or pod
2 teaspoons true cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons chili flakes
1 tablespoon white sesame seeds
4 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
3 teaspoons coriander
3 teaspoons fenugreek seed
Blend all ingredients in a spice grinder. Pass through fine sieve. Store in a tightly sealed container in a cool, dry place.
Florida native Edouardo Jordan is the chef and co-owner of Salare in Seattle. He was named a 2016 Best New Chef by Food and Wine.