okra with chillies

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this is just a quick stir-fry and not so much a recipe, as with my other posts on chinese cooking. there is something very fundamental about chinese home-cooking where you basically throw in a basic set of ingredients in varying amounts to make it taste good.

I stand by my conviction that all vegetables can be cooked successfully chinese-style.

okra is a vegetable that I love very much now, even though I hated it very much when I was a child. my grandmother makes the best dish of okra with almost the same ingredients as I have used here, but there is something about her cooking that makes it exceptionally tasty, and I have not been able to achieve that yet. I hope very much one day to be able to do so.

if you see in the photos, I have cut my okra on a slant – this is something I’ve always seen my grandmother do, and there’s no point in changing what works and makes it look nice. there is something so pleasantly geometric about the design of okra.

what I’ve done here is to also slice chillies into matchsticks, removing most of the seeds so the dish doesn’t burn uncomfortably, as well as three cloves of garlic. stir-fry the garlic and chillies until fragrant in very hot oil, and then throw in a handful of dried shrimp (you can buy this from oriental supermarkets, such as those in london’s chinatown). fry it around until the shrimp are slightly browned, and then throw in your sliced okra. give it a stir and a few dashes of chinese rice wine and let it soften.

my trick is to add water if the vegetables need to soften further – this des not affect the texture of the vegetables, especially since this dish is meant to be slick and unctuous as opposed to crispy. season to taste with soya sauce and sesame oil and dish up when hot.

give this dish a try, it might convert you if you thought you hated okra!

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