Since July is Nutrition Month, KCC’s hosts Kai and Isabel’s challenge is to “cook something that is pampahaba ng buhay and that should be a part of our cooking menu habang buhay. It should be nutritious, and must contain vegetables or fruits, but not necessarily vegetarian. We may not like it – it may have been forced upon us by our elders when we were young, para pampalaki.”
I was one of those kids who would eat anything given to them; however slow it would take me to finish a meal. There were only a few things I didn’t like so it’s quite easy to remember. On top of that short list were saluyot and okra; I just couldn’t take the gooey slime of these vegetables. When served with pinakbet, I had no qualms whatsoever taking all the ampalaya slices while my sister would take as much okra as she could. I was in my late 20s when I decided to give this ‘mucilaginous’ vegetable another try. Oh my gulay! It’s not so bad after all, especially when cooked crisp to the bite. The best way I can describe it is to liken it to crunchy asparagus with hollow core semi-stuffed with a bit of goo. Sounds fantastic, eh? But seriously, I love okra now. It’s probably an acquired taste.
Okra is apparently quite healthy, too – a good source of high fiber, Vitamin A (pampalinaw ng mata) and C (pampalakas), B complex vitamins (pampalaki), calcium (pampatibay ng buto) and potassium (pampalakas pang muli). It is also said to be high in antioxidants, which help prevent chronic diseases like cancer, heart disease and arthritis. Oh ‘di ba naman?
Like mom and dad, I have a very limited arsenal when it comes to okra. With the exception of sinigang and pinakbet, I normally cook okra in the simplest way possible. Whole okras steamed or boiled with fresh tomato slices and tossed with bagoong (salted anchovies), alamang or patis (fish sauce). For KCC, I prepped this ensalada made of stir-fried okra slices with crispy fried dilis (dried anchovies), spring onion ringlets, and a refreshingly light dressing of patis, sugar and lemon juice. Stir-fried to cut down sliminess a great deal. And instead of bagoong, I opted for dilis. Crunchy and crunchier. Om nom nom nom.
I can say that my son is growing up to be just like me. He has an adventurous palate and will try anything served to him. But of course when he doesn’t like something it would take time for him to try again. Or not at all. Right, he doesn’t like okra. Oh well let’s see what happens after 10 to 15 years.
Having said that, this dish is meant for my ‘secret pot’ – a term coined by a fellow blogger referring to a dish no one else at home would eat but me.
Approx. 1/4 cup dilis
A handful of okra, tough tops trimmed, sliced diagonally about 1/2 in thick
A thumb of ginger, crushed and sliced thinly
1 small onion, sliced thinly
Approx 1/8 cup of chicken stock (or plain water)
1 tsp sugar
Juice of half a lemon (or 2-3 kalamansi)
1 tbsp patis
1 stalk of spring onion, sliced thinly for garnish
Heat oil in a wok and fry dilis until crispy but not burnt. Set aside.
Clean wok with paper towel. Heat about a tbsp of oil. Saute ginger slices until a bit crispy and fragrant. Add onion and stir-fry until caramelized. Add okra and stir-fry over high heat for a minute.
Add a bit of stock so that it’s not too dry and continue to cook for another minute or until okra is al dente. Turn off the heat. Stir in sugar while still hot.
Transfer to a serving platter. Drizzle with patis and freshly-squeezed lemon juice all over. Toss to combine. Stir in fried dilis and garnish with spring onion.
“Kulinarya Cooking Club was started by a group of Filipino foodies living in Sydney who are passionate about the Filipino culture and its colourful cuisine.
Each month we will showcase a new dish along with their family recipes. By sharing these recipes, we hope you find the same passion and love for Filipino food as we do.” - Kulinarya Cooking Club
- Approx. ¼ cup dilis (dried anchovies)
- A handful of okra, tough tops trimmed, sliced diagonally about ½ in thick
- A thumb of ginger, crushed and sliced thinly
- 1 small onion, sliced thinly
- Approx ⅛ cup of stock (or plain water)
- 1 tsp sugar
- Juice of half a lemon
- 1 tbsp patis (fish sauce)
- 1 stalk of spring onion, sliced thinly for garnish
- Heat oil in a wok and fry dilis until crispy but not burnt. Set aside.
- Clean wok with paper towel. Heat about a tbsp of oil. S aute ginger slices until a bit crispy and fragrant. Add onion and stir-fry until caramelized. Add okra and stir-fry over high heat for a minute.
- Add a bit of stock so that it’s not too dry and continue to cook for another minute or until okra is al dente. Turn off the heat. Stir in sugar while still hot.
- Transfer to a serving platter. Drizzle with patis and freshly-squeezed lemon juice all over. Toss to combine. Stir in fried dilis and garnish with spring onion.