Thai Okra Salad (泰式凉拌秋葵 Tai Shi Liang Ban Qiu Kui)
September 11, 2021  Print
Okra loves warm climates, so Texas is pretty ideal for growing okra in the summer. We currently have six okras plants growing in the same raised bed as our vine vegetables (on the opposite side). Once the okra flower wilts, it takes only about 2 days to produce a mature enough okra pod to pick. Since July, we have been getting a few okra pods just about every day. As a result, I have been making and also experimenting with quite a few okra dishes.
I did not grow up eating much okra, so it took me a while to embrace its slimy texture. Now I love it. My two boys on the other hand liked okra on their first try (fingers crossed they continue to like it). If you are not a fan of okra’s sliminess, try my Steamed Okra with Garlic, which has very little slimy taste. It was also the dish that converted my husband into an okra lover.
We are trying to eat more seasonally and from our own garden bed these days. And since we are also getting quite a few bell peppers from our garden, I combined okra with bell peppers to make a Thai salad dish the other day. It turned out pretty tasty and has become a regular okra dish for us. Whole okras are first blanched quickly to preserve their crunchiness and to also minimize any slimy texture. Then chopped okras and sliced bell peppers are tossed in a fish sauce chili lime dressing. The okra absorbs the dressing exceptionally well. The resulting salad has a perfect balance between acidity, savoriness, spiciness, and sweetness . It does well on its own and pairs well with other protein dishes.
Fish sauce is a staple condiment in Asia, especially in Southeast Asia. The fish sauce lime chili sauce is widely used in Thailand as a dipping sauce or as a salad dressing. If fish sauce is not your cup of tea or if you don’t have fish sauce handy, you can replace it with light soy sauce instead, although it will lack the unique umami flavor that comes from fermented small fish. You can also try adding a mushed-up anchovy (from canned anchovies) to the soy sauce to add more umami flavor. Since fish sauce is made with fermenting small fish, for those of you who are vegan, there are plant-based vegan fish sauces on the market these days.
I know I have been posting quite a few cold salad dishes in the past few weeks. It has just been so hot in Texas. The afternoon sun is especially scorching. Sometimes all we want to eat is some refreshing salad. Hopefully, as the weather starts to cool down a bit soon, I will resume sharing some more hot dishes.
Gluten Free, Low Carb, Pescatarain Friendly
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 2 – 4
- 1/3 lb baby okra pods
- 2 medium or 1 large bell peppers (any color is fine)
- 2 Thai peppers or other fresh or dried chili peppers 1
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce 2
- juice from 1 small lime
- 1 teaspoon sugar 3
- Heat a pot of water in a medium sauce pan. While waiting for the water to boil, thoroughly wash, de-seed, and de-vein (remove the white inside part) the bell peppers and cut them into medium pieces. Put all the diced bell peppers in a large mixing bowl. Cut the fresh chili peppers into tiny pieces and put them in a small bowl.
- In the small bowl with the chili peppers, add the 2 tablespoons of fish sauce, the lime juice, and the 1 teaspoon of sugar, mixing thoroughly.
- When the water boils, add the baby okra pods to the boiling water for 3 minutes, turning the okra often to make sure all sides are evenly blanched. When three minutes are up, take out the okra pods and immediately immerse them in icy water for a few seconds. Pat the okra pods dry with paper towel.
- Cut the cooled okra pods into small chucks and add them to the diced bell peppers in the large mixing bowl. Pour in the fish sauce chili lime dressing, mixing thoroughly. Transfer the okra salad to a plate (or multiple plates). Discard any remaining dressing. Enjoy directly or first chill in a refrigerator for 15 minutes.
- You can add mild chili peppers or hot chili peppers depending on your own tolerance. I make a separate fish sauce lime dressing without the chili peppers for my kids. But my husband and I like this salad with more heat. The spiciness can make this okra salad quite addicting.
- You can find fish sauce in any Asian grocery store. Many western chain stores carry it as well. For a vegan version, there is vegan fish sauce made with shiitake mushrooms and soy.
- Traditionally palm sugar is used, but any sugar works just well, especially outside of Asia. I used raw cane sugar here.
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