okra

And here’s another dish from the-Y-O, that’s Yotam Ottolenghi to you and me. This adaptation from “Plenty” was a huge success. The dish is South East Asian inspired, since it uses sambal sauce.

sambal okra over coconut rice

sambal okra over coconut rice

Sambal is a fiery sauce made with chili peppers, shallots, tamarind and other spices. The-Y-O claims that a dish like this is served in Malaysia for breakfast. “Wow” is all I can say, people and their cuisines sure can be different. This is spicy! I can’t imagine having it for breakfast. It reminds me of our trip to Thailand and Cambodia a few years ago. When we first arrived, the brutal jet lag had me hungry for spicy foods loaded with fish sauce in the morning. That’s standard fare there, so it worked out really well, at least at the beginning. Fried rice and fish soup at 7AM, no problem! I ate with gusto and it was all simply delicious! After a week or two, as I adjusted to the Thai clock, I began to have trouble with that kind of breakie.

I’ve made sambal before with calamari and shrimp, but didn’t think breakfast-time. We had this sambal okra for dinner, which is just fine by me. Really, it was so tasty that I’d be willing to have it anytime, including for breakfast… I bet this would be a super remedy for a hangover…

sambal okra over coconut rice

for the coconut rice:

1 cup basmati rice rinsed
½ cup coconut milk
1½ cups water
2 rinds of lemon
4 thin slices of fresh ginger
Kosher salt to taste

for the okra:

1 lb frozen baby okra
Lemon or lime wedges
Cilantro leaves for decoration

for the sambal sauce:

3 fresh Jalapeño peppers, seeds and ribs partially removed (leave some for heat)
5 dried red chili peppers, seeds discarded
8 baby shallots
2 garlic cloves
1tsp paprika
½ cup vegetable oil
1 tbsp tamarind paste
1 tbsp sugar
Kosher salt to taste

Add chilies fresh and dried, shallots, garlic, paprika, tamarind, sugar, 2 tablespoons of oil and another 2 of water to the food processor and spin until it turns into paste.

Place remaining oil in a large skillet on high. Pour paste in and sauté for a minute or so. Turn temperature down and cook it for about 10 minutes. The sambal sauce will be ready when it becomes dark brownish red in color and oil starts to separate from the paste. Set aside.

Place all rice ingredients in a saucepan on high heat. Give it a good stir. Bring to a boil. Stir again, reduce temperature to low, cover and cook until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat, keeping covered, and let rest for 8-10 minutes.

Have a pan ready with boiling water within the last 8-10 minutes rice is finishing cooking. Drop frozen okra into the water and cook 3-4 minutes to scald the little pods. Transfer okra to a colander and run some cold water over to stop cooking process.

Heat up sambal, fold in okra and let it warm through.

Transfer rice to a serving platter, top with sambal okra & decorate with cilantro leaves and wedges of lemon.

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One of the vegetable stands at the Alemany Farmers Market had a ton of fresh okra on sale the other week. I bought a bunch of it, almost 2lbs. I didn’t see much okra this summer. I wonder why? I hope this vegetable is not falling out of fashion, or worse, that people are giving up on it because of the slime issue. Okra is delicious, and pretty, too. In Brazil we used to grow it in the front garden because the plants have beautiful leaves and bear cute yellow flowers with thin delicate petals.

quiabo refogado com tomates,  or stewed okra and tomatoes

quiabo refogado com tomates, or stewed okra and tomatoes

This is an ultra simple recipe for okra and tomatoes that I grew up eating. It is similar to that green bean and tomato dish I made recently. You will love it! The secret to making it non-slimy, if you care about that, is too cook the okra at high temperature and to avoid cutting them open. This way the inside juices don’t run off into the sauce making it, you know, slimy.

quiabo refogado com tomates, or stewed okra and tomatoes

~2lbs whole okra
5 Roma tomatoes (very ripe) cut in halves
4 cloves garlic, crushed
4 tbsp olive oil
½ medium size white onion, cut into small cubes
½ tsp garlic pepper sauce
½ cup water or vegetable broth
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Fresh lime or lemon wedges

Place three tablespoons of olive oil in a deep pan. Heat the oil for a minute or until fragrant. Add onion and sauté until translucent. Push onion to the side of the pan, add garlic and continue sautéing until raw garlic aroma is gone. Be careful not to burn it! Add okra, water or vegetable broth, tomato and salt. Give everything a good stir, cover and cook on high heat for about 4 minutes, shaking the pan vigorously every now and then.

Uncover pan. At this point tomato skins will be peeling. Remove skins with the help of a tong and/or fork. Add garlic pepper sauce, stir and cook until tomatoes are dissolved. Cooking time should not be longer than 8 minutes, total. Transfer okra immediately to a serving dish, while still al dente. Drizzle with remaining olive oil and several twists of freshly ground black pepper. Once plated, like with pasta, okra will continue to cook for a bit, but it won’t turn into mush or become slippery. Serve as a side dish with a wedge of lime.

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vegan aloo mutter with okra and edamame

Aloo mutter is another dish I like for lunch at Rotee Express on Howard and Spear. I like Rotee Express though invariably, they always serve their food cold. Apparently, due to a lack of space in the tiny restaurant, the food is made at their main location and then shipped over.

They’re the inspiration for this dish, though I’ve no idea of their recipe and, of course, I served mine warm. It does require a fair number of various spices, which is exciting. I love to try different spice blends and I’m slowly getting a handle on Indian cooking. Cooking Indian still feels like a lab experiment but one that’s becoming more familiar with practice. So don’t be put off by the ingredient list on this one. It’s really good and good for you, too. And you can show off to your friends and loved ones when you present a homemade Indian masterpiece.

I love experimenting with new spices, like amchoor powder

Vegan Aloo Mutter with Okra and Edamame

1 lb medium sized potatoes, skin on, quartered
1 cup fresh shelled frozen edamame
1 cup fresh frozen okra
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 jalapeño pepper, seeds and ribs discarded then minced
1 large onion, run through food processor
¾ tbsp ground fresh ginger
1 tsp mashed garlic
2 ripe Roma tomatoes, run through food processor
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp turmeric
1 tsp amchoor powder (green mango powder)
1/8 tsp ground chili pepper
1 cup water
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tbsp cashew nut butter
Kosher salt

Garnish:

cilantro leaves, fresh onion and wedges of lemon or lime.

...and cumin seeds

Place olive oil in pressure cooker (If you don’t have one, use a regular deep pan. You’ll just have to cook it longer.) Add cumin seeds and cook until aromatic and slightly browned, about a minute or so. Add jalapeño, followed by processed onion. Sauté until onion becomes translucent. Add garlic and ginger. Continue sautéing for a couple of minutes more, stirring constantly. Fold in ground cumin, turmeric, chili pepper, coriander and amchoor powder. Stir in tomatoes. Cook for 4 minutes. Add potatoes and water. Seal the pressure cooker and cook on high for 3-4 minutes after valve starts whistling. Shake the pan a few times to prevent sticking. Remove from heat. Run some cold water over sealed pan to cool it and release pressure so it will open.

Stir in edamane, okra and cashew nut butter. Return to heat for another minute until edamane becomes softer. Add nutritional yeast and stir again. Remove from heat then let cool down for 5-10 min and serve! This dish, like a lot of Indian food, seems to taste even better the next day, after it’s been sitting around for a while.

I garnished the aloo mutter with fresh cilantro leaves, fresh sliced onion and lime wedges. It went really well with with carrot cumin basmati rice. We drank a bottle of a scrumptious white Côtes Du Rhône, the 2008 Domaine de la Becassonne,which matched perfectly.

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