A fabulously textured salad from Selina Periampillai’s inaugural demo
Okra—also known by the faintly alarming name ‘ladies’ fingers’ (referring to their long elegant shape)—have a mild flavour similar to aubergine. They can be cooked whole or chopped and simply sautéed, used to thicken stews (because of the sticky liquid they produce when cooked), pickled or fried until crispy.
My mum would buy these daily from the local Asian shop and sauté them with garlic, ginger, thyme and a little tomato. I like them with a little more bite.
This salad is perfect as a side dish to some fish, grilled meat or even a ʻcariʼ. The crunch of the okra with a tangy vinegar dressing and heat from the chilli work in exceptional harmony, but it’s those crispy fried breadcrumbs speckled on top that complete this fabulously textured salad.
1 small red onion, finely sliced
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 green chilli, finely chopped
1 tsp caster sugar
½ tsp sea salt
1 tomato (110g), sliced
For the crumb:
1 tbsp olive oil
5 tbsp panko breadcrumbs or normal breadcrumbs
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Mix the sliced onion, vinegar, olive oil, chilli, sugar, salt and ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper in a bowl. Leave to marinate for 15 mins.
Wash and pat dry the okra with kitchen paper. Steam them over boiling water for 5 mins, until slightly tender but still retaining a bite.
Meanwhile, heat a small frying pan over a medium-high heat and add the olive oil and breadcrumbs. Toss them well together for around 2 mins, until golden brown. Season with salt and pepper.
Once the okra is cooked it will be vibrant green in colour. Take it out of the steamer and cut off and discard the top hard ends. Slice the okra into 2cm pieces and place in a medium-sized mixing bowl.
Pour the onion marinade mixture over the okra and gently toss together. Add in the sliced tomato and gently mix. Scatter the breadcrumbs generously over the okra salad and serve immediately.
Recipe: Selina Periampillai
Image: Yuki Sugiura