As two people who’ve spent most of their lives in the New York City area, we really love trying out Southern food – to us, it’s unique and a little exotic, and there’s many dishes we’ve either never had or have only rarely gotten to try.  Unfortunately, much of Southern cuisine isn’t vegetarian friendly:  there’s a lot of fried chicken and steak, pork chops, and barbecued meats, plus cooks from the region love sneaking meat products into green beans, mac and cheese, and even some breads.  But recently we found several recipes that take some cool Southern dishes and turn them vegetarian or even vegan, and so we’re going to devote our next few posts to these.  Today we feature Limpin’ Susan, so called because it’s a variation on the classic South Carolina/Georgia dish known as Hoppin’ John.  Both are made with rice and vegetables, but Limpin’ Susan omits the meat that makes up the base of Hoppin’ John to give you a vegan meal.  We based this on a recipe we saw in the New York Times, and they in turn adapted it from the cooking traditions of the Gullah community, who live off the coast of South Carolina, Georgia, and north Florida.




To make this, you’ll need:

  • Vegetable oil
  • A half-pound bag of frozen sliced okra
  • A small onion
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • 3 hot peppers
  • Rice

You’ll first want to measure out a cup of rice and cook it in 2 cups of water until it’s tender.  While you’re waiting, place the okra in a colander and run warm water over it just until it defrosts.  Measure out 1/4 cup of vegetable oil in a large skillet and warm it over medium-high heat.  Add in the okra and cook for 4 minutes, until it’s browned, then cover the skillet with a pot lid and let the okra steam for another 4 minutes.  Next, chop up your onion, 3 cloves of garlic, a small nub of ginger, and your peppers and add them in, along with salt and pepper.




Cook everything together for about 2 minutes …




… then stir in the rice and cook for another 2 minutes, or longer if you want the rice to crisp up and brown a little.




Once the rice is the texture and consistency that you want, you can scoop it up and serve!




And that’s really all there is to it – just a little bit of vegetable prep and a few minutes of cooking and you’ve got a nice vegan dish.  Limpin’ Susan feature a lot of the staples of coastal Southern cuisine, like okra and spicy peppers, except without the meat that many recipes have.  This is also a great example of a really niche subset of Southern food:  the Gullah have a strong preservation of their original West African heritage, and that comes out here in the use of rice as the backbone of this dish.  This recipe can make either a good side dish or one more hearty meal, and since it’s so easy and unique you can try it out any time and experience a new American way of eating for yourself.