okra with fried shallots

okra with fried shallots

It was rare, but there where a few dishes that I hated eating while growing up.  There where certain times that certain ingredients would be used many times for many days, which then led to my brother and I giving each other looks of desperation out of hope that one of us would say something to our mother hoping not to offend her.  Usually leading to someone saying something and then not seeing that ingredient at all, ever again.  Okra was one of them.  Okra was actually one of the few things that I was turned off to after just the first bite.  But I still tried it every time my mom made it.  But, I eventually rediscovered it and it is all because of Ludacris.  Who knew Ludacris would inspire me to try okra again.

First, in order to not let my wikipedia research go to waste, a little information about Okra.  It started in Africa but seems to have slowly moved to India and Pakistan.  I think through there it made its way to Japanese cuisine in the late 20th century and thus onto the dinner table at home.  My mom prepared it as a salad, boiled, chilled, and then mixed with ponzu sauce as a dressing.  The flavors where good, but I think the problem for me was the texture.  The slime of the okra was a little too much for me to handle.  Which, is crazy because I love texture.  I love cartilage, lardon, chewy, soft, jelly, whatever.  Love it all.  But I couldn’t really do the okra thing at the time.  Because of that I didn’t really feel a need to try it again.  I wasn’t sure how to really prepare it, nor did I really feel like it.  I did enjoy it in curries and gumbo, but that was also because you couldn’t really taste it.  It was more a binder or thickener, never the main stage.  But, again, thanks to Ludacris, I love okra.

I was reading an article in Gourmet magazine, you will be missed, or Food and Wine, can’t remember, about a new Singaporean restaurant in Atlanta that Ludacris owned called Straits.  The write up was actually great and really talked about Ludacris as a smart businessman and talented foodie.  Their head chef, Chris Yeo, made an okra dish that involved Sambal Oelek, dry shrimp, red pepper, crispy shallot, and okra.  It was delicious and spicy.  It inspired me to give okra another chance.  So, I took out the shrimp and red pepper and added garlic, ginger, fish sauce, and lime.  You can do without the ginger and garlic if you would like.

Some ingredient clarification.  Sambal Oelek is a chili sauce that is common in Indonesian, Malaysian, and Singaporean cuisine.  You can substitute Chinese chili sauce (the kind with the green top) or garlic chili sauce.  Haven’t tried it with sriracha but I’m sure that is good too.  Fried shallots can be found at most Asian markets.  If you can’t find it, you can use fresh shallots and fry them yourself.  Fish sauce requires more explanation and probably another post.  But just trust me, it’s good. It may be stinky for some, but for some reason cooking it gets rid of the pungent flavor.  If you don’t want fish sauce you can leave it out and some more lime.  But, let’s be real.  I wouldn’t steer you away from something good.  Especially something as good as fermented fish stuff.  Try it.  I challenge you.


1 lb okra, ½ inch slices

2 tsp fish sauce

2 tsp lime juice

1 tbs fried shallot

1 tsp sambal oelek

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbs ginger, minced

1 tbs canola oil


heat oil on high in pan

sauté garlic, ginger, and okra for 1-2 minutes

add lime juice and fish sauce and toss and cook for 1-2 minutes and turn down heat.

mix sambal oelek and plate

~serves 2~


4 Responses to “okra with fried shallots”

  1. 1 MK
    January 9, 2010 at 1:42 am

    MMMMM… I love okra. Especially fried.

    Growing up I was lucky enough to have Ms. Pearl. Fried cornbread everyday with a pan of sweet cornbread for me and Doc, and fried chicken and greens every Monday. She is a legend. Sadly, I didn’t take advantage of this resource and learn how to cook from this amazing southern woman who cooked for our family for 20+ years. I’ll let you in on the one and only secret I ever learned from Ms. Pearl – add a tablespoon of plain white vinegar to your okra and it won’t get slimy. Works every time.

    I lie, I did learn one other important lesson from Ms. Pearl – If your man doesn’t act right hit him over the head with a cast iron skillet. True story.

  2. 2 scott
    January 9, 2010 at 4:47 pm

    MK: Sounds like Ms. Pearl knew her life skills!

  3. 3 JC
    January 11, 2010 at 7:30 am

    When did you make this? How come I didn’t see any traits of okra at all?

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