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Cuban quimbombo (okra)

    1 kg of okra
    1 kg of pork or beef.
    1 large onion
    1 pepper
    12 cloves of garlic
    2 teaspoons of salt
    ¼ teaspoon of pepper
    1 pinch of oregano
    1 pinch of cumin
    1 cup tomato sauce
    ½ cup vinegar
    1 cup of cooking wine
    Frying oil
    2 to 3 cups of water
    juice of 3 lemons
    2 or 3 plantains, preferably the macho variety.

Did you know okra?
Okra is a vegetable grown in regions of the world with tropical or very hot climates. It is a staple of the African diet that arrived in Cuba with waves of immigrant slaves during the colonial period.
What is consumed is the fruit, reminiscent of a small and long pepper, which can have elongated streaks along the skin, so that when cut it leaves us a curious star shape.
It is used in several ways. You can find just-cooked okra as a salad; it can even be kept dehydrated to add flavor. There is okra soup, but it can also be eaten fried or in tomato sauce. It must be taken into account that it is mucilaginous, that is to say it has a viscous substance that is surprising when tasted raw, but very appreciated in stews due to its thickening power.
Okra combines perfectly with tomato, coriander, pepper and other spices, to accompany any type of meat or fish. It is a natural thickener which gives a particular consistency.
Cuban okra with meat and plantain.

Preparation :
Wash the okra (it should be very tender), remove the head and tip. Cut it into wheels and place them in a container with water and lemon juice (until ready to cook) to reduce its viscosity.
Heat the oil and brown the meat cut into medium pieces, with the onion, pepper and crushed garlic. Add salt, pepper, cumin, oregano, tomato sauce, vinegar and cooking wine.
When the meat is half cooked, add the okra, water and lemon juice, to finish cutting the stickiness altogether.
Leave it on the heat until it becomes soft. Add the boiled plantains at the end of cooking. You can first puree them and prepare balls, or use tostones instead.
Let it cook until the water runs out.
Without the meat or other ingredients, you can just cook it the same way but for a shorter time, with chilies and onions, pepper and salt, to make just a delicious salad.
Okra goes well with tomatoes, onions and peppers, as well as curry, coriander, oregano, lemon and vinegar, just as well as with rice.
So we couldn't miss the Cuban okra rice, a recipe so typical of Cuba.
Arroz con quimbombó.
Ingredients :
1 pound okra
5 tablespoons of butter
1 onion
6 cloves of garlic
1 Green pepper or other sweet peppers.
2 or 3 sprigs of very small chopped parsley or coriander.
5 tablespoons of tomato puree
Ham (Chorizo, pork or chicken)
1/2 cup cooking wine
1 tablespoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
2 1/2 cups water
1 squeezed lime
2 cups of rice
Bijol (food pigment to taste)
preparation :
Okra can be used whole or cut into wheels, removing the cap and tip.
Soak the okra in water with lemon juice for half an hour.
Make a sauce with the fat, onion, garlic, pepper, parsley, tomato and ham or another type of meat. Then add the cooking wine, salt and pepper. In this sauce, also add the freshly cut okra into wheels (previously soaked in water with lemon) and fry everything for about 2 or 3 minutes.
Add the water with the bijol and when it starts to boil, add the washed and drained rice. Cover and cook over medium heat until the rice is tender.
A good cold beer would be the ideal accompaniment for this dish, which is as simple as it is rich and tasty.
If the opportunity arises, during your next trip to Cuba, don't forget to also taste Cuban Quimbombó with cassava cooked with mojo criollo... It's surprising how good it is.
It will undoubtedly be an unforgettable culinary discovery.

Cuban quimbombo (okra)
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