Chef Jason Stanhope has been a culinary mind behind FIG in Charleston for 15 years. FIG has been a culinary destination for decades, known for its commitment to working with hyper-local and hyper-seasonal ingredients. Rather than starting with a recipe and seeking out the ingredients to fulfill the vision, FIG starts ingredient-first, letting the building blocks take the reins, and organically constructing the dish around them.
Here, Stanhope shares his recipe for fire-grilled okra with a gorgonzola dressing, benne seeds, and fresh dill. It’s important to start with good-quality, ripe okra. To test if the okra is ready, bend the smaller tip of the okra towards you to see if it will break. You’re looking for a slight bend rather than break for the best “woody” okra for grilling. No matter your cooking method, you’ll want these okra to stand up to high heat, and char properly. Stanhope’s go-to method when grilling okra is to skewer the spears for easy handling.
Stanhope’s favorite blue cheese is Smokey Oregon Blue from Rogue Creamery. He also recommends sticking with Diamond Crystal kosher salt for the dressing seasoning. This recipe will yield extra dressing, which is a quick upgrade for sliced heirloom tomatoes or summer salads. Be sure to prepare the dressing in advance so it has time to chill.
½ cup blue cheese, divided
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup mayonnaise
Juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt, plus more
2 pounds tender okra, washed, topped, and patted dry
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon benne seeds
1 bunch dill, washed, dried, and roughly chopped
Sea salt, to taste
Fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
Lemon wedges, to serve
- In a blender or food processor, combine half of the blue cheese and all of the buttermilk and pulse a few times to your desired consistency, taking care not to over purée. Transfer blue cheese mixture to a mixing bowl and whisk in mayonnaise, lemon juice, and season with kosher salt to taste. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
- Preheat a gas or charcoal grill to high heat. Once hot, toss the okra with olive oil 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt, and place on grill, cooking for 1 minute per side. The okra should turn bright green and develop a light char. Check for doneness, and return to grill if needed.
- Meanwhile, toast benne seeds in a small skillet on grill, stirring constantly, until they deepen in color and release a nutty aroma, about 2 minutes. Remove immediately from heat.
- Arrange okra in a single layer on a large platter or build in layers to maximize the garnishes. Spoon the blue cheese dressing over the okra, then add remaining blue cheese, toasted benne seeds, and lots of chopped dill. Finish with a liberal sprinkle of sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper. Serve with lemon wedges to squeeze at the table.
Recipe ByJason Stanhope of FIG in Charleston