Most Egyptians would never imagine that okra is popular in Japan. The common way of eating okra in the Middle East is usually as a part of a tomatoey, saucy stew; which completely removes the slimy element from the vegetable. I always thought that Middle Eastern people would not be too fond of the slime that comes out of the okra when it’s cooked, but if you think of Molokheya (Jews Mallow soup) or Weika (okra salad from upper Egypt) you would understand that we too have slime-lovers in our midst. By the way, the okra and Molokheya slime is called mucilage.. and I personally fucking love it!
Many years ago I was surprised to learn about this Japanese okra salad called: Okura Ohitashi, which literally translates to blanched okra. I didn’t know that this vegetable, that I had always associated with Egyptian cuisine was also popular on the other side of the globe.
Okura Ohitashi is served in a cold savory broth, that is very similar to the stuff they use to season noodle soups and it is garnished with semi-crushed sesame seeds and Katsuobushi (Bonito flakes). This is pretty different from any Middle Eastern recipe but I hope you enjoy it!
- 350g fresh large okra
- 1 Tbsp salt
- 200ml dashi stock (substitute with chicken stock if unavailable)
- 2 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- Semi-crushed, toasted sesame seeds and Katsuobushi for garnish
- Use some of the salt to rub away the micro-fuzz from the okra. Rinse well.
- Drop the rest of the salt in medium sized pot filled with water and bring it to a boil.
- Blanch the okra in the boiling water for no longer than 2 minutes.
- Fish out the okra and immediately drop into an ice bath to retain its crunch and vibrant green color.
- Dissolve the soy sauce and sugar in the slightly warmed dashi or chicken stock.
- Remove the okra from the ice bath and lightly drain on kitchen paper.
- Cut the okra into 1/2 inch slices and serve them on a platter.
- Pour over the warm stock mixture and sprinkle with the sesame seeds and Katsuobushi.