Friday, July 29, 2016

Kung Pao Okra (bhindi)

Crispy okra is good in pretty much any form. In this vegetarian version of the traditional kung pao chicken, the okra is baked to crispness and then tossed with the sweet, salty and spicy kung pao sauce. You could also deep dry the okra tossed with some rice flour for additional crispness. I prefer to go the low fat version for most things. Hence I baked mine - frying would be much quicker though! This dish is best served warm with steamed jasmine rice and a main course of tofu or tempeh.

Kung Pao Okra

1 1/2 lb okra
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 1/2 cup chopped Spanish onions
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 slices of ginger (quarter sized)
3 whole dry red chilies broken into two pieces each
1/2 - 1 teaspoon dried red chili flakes (depends on how spicy you like it)
1/2 cup roasted shelled peanuts

Kung Pao Sauce
1 tablespoon palm sugar or light brown sugar
2 teaspoons corn starch
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tablespoon Chinese black vinegar ( or unseasoned rice vinegar)
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
3 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoons salt

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F.
  2. Wash the dry the okra. Trim the okra and cut vertically down the middle. Toss with 2 tablespoons canola oil and lay it out in a single layer on a baking sheet. Place the tray in the middle rack of the preheated oven. Roast for 15 minutes. Toss them around with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and roast for another 20 to 25 minutes depending on how crisp you want the okra. There is a fine line between crisp and dry - hence they need to be monitored after the second 15 minutes.
  3. While the okra is being roasted, mix all the ingredients for the sauce in a mixing bowl and stir till the sugar is well integrated.
  4. In a large saute pan, heat 1 tablespoon canola oil and add the dry red chili and saute for 20 seconds. Add the ginger, minced garlic, chopped onion and dried chili flakes and cook over medium heat for about 3 minutes till the onions are just beginning to soften. Add the roasted okra and toss once. Now add the sauce and give it a quick boil. The okra should have a nice sheen from the sauce. Sprinkle the roasted peanuts and serve immediately.
Serves 3