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Yesterday, an old friend sent me a picture of her family dinner, which she prepared. She was never much of a cook, so I was a bit surprised. It's the first I've seen her cook in 25 years. Here is the spread.

 

229275825_mmexport16157268555051.thumb.jpg.9afa4d7837a94107ad582afa088a400d.jpg

 

I immediately zoomed in on one dish - the okra.

 

mmexport1615711310383.thumb.jpg.0b3a25e7ac29c52103925abfc66f6bce.jpg

 

For the first 20-odd years I lived in China, I never saw okra - no one knew what it was. I managed to find its Chinese name ( 秋葵 - qiū kuí) in a scientific dictionary, but that didn't help. I just got the same blank looks.

 

Then about 3 years ago, it started to creep into a few supermarkets. At first, they stocked the biggest pods they could find - stringy and inedible - but they worked it out eventually. Now okra is everywhere.


I cook okra often, but have never seen it served in China before (had it down the road in Vietnam, though) and there are zero recipes in any of my Chinese language cookbooks. So, I did the sensible thing and asked my friend how she prepared it. Here is her method.

 

1. First bring a pan of water to the boil. Add the washed okra and boil for two minutes. Drain.


2. Top and tail the pods. Her technique for that is interesting.

 


3. Finely mince garlic, ginger, red chilli and green onion in equal quantities. Heat oil and pour over the prepared garlic mix. Add a little soy sauce.

 


4. Place garlic mix over the okra and serve.

 

 

When I heard step one, I thought she was merely blanching the vegetable, but she assures me that is all the cooking it gets or needs, but she did say she doesn't like it too soft.


Also, I should have mentioned that she is from Hunan province so the red chilli is inevitable.

 

Anyway, I plan to make this tomorrow. I'm not convinced, but we'll see.

 

to be continued

 

 

Edited by liuzhou (log)
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2 hours ago, liuzhou said:

I immediately zoomed in on one dish - the okra.

And I misread the title to this post. I read it as Chinese Torture for Okra and I was all for it! So disappointed to discover my error. 

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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

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I am very curious about the technique for trimming the okra too.  I would love to hear the justification for it.  I confess to wondering if it's simply from inexperience with the ingredient, but I don't want to assume.

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23 hours ago, donk79 said:

I am very curious about the technique for trimming the okra too.  I would love to hear the justification for it.  I confess to wondering if it's simply from inexperience with the ingredient, but I don't want to assume.

Well I am willing to assume. I assume it’s a communist plot to try and hide the true identity of the vegetable. 😂

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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

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I did ask my friend why she she used scissors. Her answer was "for convenience". She pointed out that she has, in the past, used a knife but finds scissors easier and faster.

 

No. I don't get it either.

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Finally got round to replicating my friend's okra dish. I followed her method to the letter (except the  scissors part).

 

20210317_194608.thumb.jpg.4b78df2a42f36ab89e40e5264c46349c.jpg

 

The two minutes boil was perfect - still has some bite to it, but not undercooked. I'll definitely repeat the exercise.

 

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Posted (edited)
On 3/17/2021 at 9:04 PM, KennethT said:

I've seen (as I'm sure you have too @liuzhou) scissors used to cut food all over SE Asia.  In Vietnam cutting fried spring rolls! 


I've seen cooked food cut with scissors, yes. The local favourite breakfast 油条 (yóu tiáo) - deep-fried breadsticks (crullers) are often cut with scissors. I've never seen scissors used in food preparation before, though.

Edited by liuzhou (log)
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I have definitely been given scissors as part of the cutlery in Korean restaurants.

in the kitchen I certainly find scissors an efficient tool for snipping chives. I also often use scissors on pizza. 

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

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My 2004 eG Blog

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2 hours ago, liuzhou said:

Finally got round to replicating my friend's okra dish. I followed her method to the letter (except the  scissors part).

 

20210317_194608.thumb.jpg.4b78df2a42f36ab89e40e5264c46349c.jpg

 

The two minutes boil was perfect - still has some bite to it, but not undercooked. I'll definitely repeat the exercise.

 

The treatment of the okra sounds great, especially the fact that they don't get trimmed until after they are cooked. My only hesitation about the garnish is that the garlic is basically raw, even after hot oil is poured over it. That's a bit much, for me at least.

 

I love okra. If cut into rings and dusted in cornmeal and fried it is terrific just tumbled atop sliced ripe tomatoes while hot. Also it is excellent cut in half lengthwise and roasted in the oven with just oil and salt or with a sprinkle of cajun spice or smoked paprika until just crispy. I think that was a Vivian Howard suggestion. I admit that I have never had it stewed, which doesn't sound so appealing .

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Posted (edited)
7 minutes ago, Katie Meadow said:

The treatment of the okra sounds great, especially the fact that they don't get trimmed until after they are cooked. My only hesitation about the garnish is that the garlic is basically raw, even after hot oil is poured over it. That's a bit much, for me at least.

 

I love okra. If cut into rings and dusted in cornmeal and fried it is terrific just tumbled atop sliced ripe tomatoes while hot. Also it is excellent cut in half lengthwise and roasted in the oven with just oil and salt or with a sprinkle of cajun spice or smoked paprika until just crispy. I think that was a Vivian Howard suggestion. I admit that I have never had it stewed, which doesn't sound so appealing .

 

The garnish is a classic round these parts - used with many dishes, especially fish. It isn't so raw as one might imagine. The ingredients are very finely diced, so the very hot oil does mostly cook things.

Yes, I usually prepare okra in the ways you mention - or at least similarly, but this one intrigued me - and I'm glad it did. The short boiling time doesn't result in any 'stewed' characteristics - not that I mind stewed okra.

 

Edited by liuzhou (log)
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Justin "I Gar AAANNN TEE" Wilson has a recipe for stewed okra. I make it several times every summer.

Olive oil

Diced onion

Lots of garlic

Really good, ripe Roma tomatoes

Sliced okra

I usually have some cayennes getting ripe about this time so plenty of those

Chopped parsley

 

I throw it all in a sauce pot and simmer until the okra is tender. Serve over rice. 

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That's the thing about opposum inerds, they's just as tasty the next day.

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5 minutes ago, chileheadmike said:

Justin "I Gar AAANNN TEE" Wilson has a recipe for stewed okra. I make it several times every summer.

Olive oil

Diced onion

Lots of garlic

Really good, ripe Roma tomatoes

Sliced okra

I usually have some cayennes getting ripe about this time so plenty of those

Chopped parsley

 

I throw it all in a sauce pot and simmer until the okra is tender. Serve over rice. 

Okay, when lovely summer okra is in the farmers' markets maybe I'll try that. The part where you just put everything in a pot together and then go do something else has a big draw.

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Posted (edited)
On 3/17/2021 at 11:05 PM, Anna N said:

I have definitely been given scissors as part of the cutlery in Korean restaurants.

in the kitchen I certainly find scissors an efficient tool for snipping chives. I also often use scissors on pizza. 

 

I have a pair of office scissors hanging above my kitchen worktop which get used for chopping some herbs, opening packets etc.

 

I've also seen scissors used in BBQ restaurants in China to make cut the meat to make it more chopstick friendly.

 

This was the first time for me to see them being used in the preparation stages of cooking.

Edited by liuzhou (log)
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Just now, liuzhou said:

I also often use scissors on pizza. 

 

I bought a pair of pizza scissors a few years ago. Only used them once. Standard scissors but with a wedge shaped attachment to carry your slice away. 

 

I'm lying in bed otherwise I'd share an image. Perhaps tomorrow if I remember.

 

Goodnight. Or morning. 3:18 am. now.

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10 hours ago, liuzhou said:

Slightly off topic, but...

 

Pizza scissors.

 

1593202235_pizzascissors1.thumb.jpg.9514e841d70195dae3b49260d8d1eedf.jpg

 

417821840_pizzascissors2.thumb.jpg.380a230fbdb83e19c9bb01154a4522cc.jpg

 

316339410_pizzascissors3.thumb.jpg.76ea32a053814dd081d6701836300eb6.jpg

This is one of the funniest things I've ever seen....  thank you for this!!!!  Do you know why they call the spatula section the "Equalizer"?

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Just now, KennethT said:

This is one of the funniest things I've ever seen....  thank you for this!!!!  Do you know why they call the spatula section the "Equalizer"?

 

No. The scissors are made in Japan, so we are seeing a translation from Japanese to Chinese to English. Many pitfalls en route.

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Talk about reinventing the wheel. The pizza wheel, that is, the cutter designed to do a real job for a basic price. That "scissors with a sidecar" looks unwieldy and is probably hard to clean. And here's a wild guess: it is made for right-handed people. 

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2 hours ago, KennethT said:

This is one of the funniest things I've ever seen....  thank you for this!!!!  Do you know why they call the spatula section the "Equalizer"?

My guess would be that it ensures equal sized triangles of pizza so there is no fighting over who got the biggest piece.😀

 

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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Posted (edited)
39 minutes ago, Katie Meadow said:

Talk about reinventing the wheel. The pizza wheel, that is, the cutter designed to do a real job for a basic price. That "scissors with a sidecar" looks unwieldy and is probably hard to clean. And here's a wild guess: it is made for right-handed people. 

 

Not particularly hard to clean. No more so than a pizza wheel.

No one in in China is allowed to be left handed*. It messes up communal dining when using chopsticks and 20 people are crammed round a circular table. Also, hand writing in Chinese suffers even more so than in English. Characters are designed to be written right handed.

*Only a slight exagggeration, but very, very few people are left-handed. It is forced out of them, as it was in  western countries until recently.

 

I used  to be able to estimate how many left-handed students would be in an examination hall when I was in academia. I was usually correct within one or two - even if I gave my 'guess' before the students actually arrived. It was always 10%. In China, less than 1%.

Edited by liuzhou (log)
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Just now, Anna N said:

My guess would be that it ensures equal sized triangles of pizza so there is no fighting over who got the biggest piece.😀

 

The translation from Chinese to English is correct. 均衡器 does mean 'equalizer'. But we don't have the Japanese original, so hard to say. Your theory is as good as any I've heard. Well, it's the only theory I've heard, but it's a good one.

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3 hours ago, Anna N said:

My guess would be that it ensures equal sized triangles of pizza so there is no fighting over who got the biggest piece.😀

 

Wow, if squabbling about the size of the pieces occurs I would venture to say another pizza was needed.

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3 hours ago, liuzhou said:

 

Not particularly hard to clean. No more so than a pizza wheel.

No one in in China is allowed to be left handed*. It messes up communal dining when using chopsticks and 20 people are crammed round a circular table. Also, hand writing in Chinese suffers even more so than in English. Characters are designed to be written right handed.

*Only a slight exagggeration, but very, very few people are left-handed. It is forced out of them, as it was in  western countries until recently.

 

I used  to be able to estimate how many left-handed students would be in an examination hall when I was in academia. I was usually correct within one or two - even if I gave my 'guess' before the students actually arrived. It was always 10%. In China, less than 1%.

I can see the struggle now. Me trying to cut the pizza with my left hand with a scissors with blades designed for righties, and then having to cross over my right arm to retrieve the slice. I guess at my next banquet I should request to sit at the head or one corner at each end so I don't poke out the right eye of my neighbor to the left. Actually I'm pretty sure I could learn to use chopsticks with my right hand if I need to without too much trauma.

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2 hours ago, Katie Meadow said:

I can see the struggle now. Me trying to cut the pizza with my left hand with a scissors with blades designed for righties, and then having to cross over my right arm to retrieve the slice. I guess at my next banquet I should request to sit at the head or one corner at each end so I don't poke out the right eye of my neighbor to the left. Actually I'm pretty sure I could learn to use chopsticks with my right hand if I need to without too much trauma.

 

With broken bone trauma on right I managed left chopsticks. Aren't the tables usually round?

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