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Island Fungi: Caribbean Cornmeal And Okra

The name of this dish might be unfamiliar, but you'll recognize the ingredients.

This dish goes by a couple different names in the Caribbean... Cou-Cou or Island Fungi. It features cornmeal and okra.

This dish goes by a couple different names in the Caribbean — Fungi and Cou-Cou.

But the ingredients will be familiar to any Midwesterner — cornmeal and okra.

The okra in this recipe is very nearly raw, which may be intimidating for some. Be sure to pick okra from your garden when it’s an inch long. Too much longer than that and it’ll taste woody and tough. You can test your okra by bending the tip — it should break off, no strings attached!

Fungi is a simple recipe, but I recommend seasoning it aggressively. (Hold the salt shaker! Be sure to taste as you go so you don’t OVER-season!) In the Caribbean, they often serve it alongside curried goat, so the flavor of this needs to be as robust as that.

Caribbean Cornmeal And Okra


  • 1 cup quick-cooking cornmeal
  • 4 cups water
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons garlic, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
  • 1 pound okra, thinly sliced
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Add okra, garlic and a pinch of salt to boiling water. Stir in cornmeal with a wooden spoon. Stir constantly to prevent clumping! Reduce the heat and cook until rawness is removed from the mixture -- 5-7 minutes. (Yes, the cornmeal mixture should be quite dry. The other ingredients will add some moisture.)
  2. Remove from heat and stir in butter and cheese. Mix to incorporate. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Chef Daniel Orr

Chef Daniel Orr is the owner of FARMbloomington and the author of several cookbooks. He draws from a lifelong curiosity about individual ingredients combined with extensive training in the art of finding food’s true essence and flavor. The result is simple, yet sophisticated; the best of American food tempered by classic European training.

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