Cold tofu with okra and wasabi in sake lee 冷や奴のわさび漬けとオクラ添え

japanese cake

Most Westerners do not like slimy food (slimophobia). My wife told me a longtime ago that she hated (strong word!) okra which is one of the rare slimy food items available in a regular market in the U.S. Okra is thought to have been brought to the U.S. by slaves who were familiar with its use in Africa. Gumbo is a famous dish in New Orleans which uses okra. My wife’s account was that as a kid she was served frozen and boiled okra as a vegetable side dish. It was grey-green with thickly viscous slime the consistency of snot (my wife’s word precisely). I can imaging how terrible this was–she was thoroughly traumatized. From time to time, I have tried to get fresh okra but my wife made me put it back. Okra became rather popular in Japan as well, since Japanese love (many of them anyway) slimy food in general. Since my wife has been primed over time with various types of slimy Japanese food and there has been a catharsis of time factor as well, I thought I should try some okra.

I found this fresh okra in the market and it had only minimum blemishes. It looked much better than the ones I can usually find, my wife was not with me, so I just bought a few. I served it on a hot day over a cube of cold tofu or ‘hiyayakko” 冷や奴. Obviously this is one of many garnish variations you can serve with cold tofu.

I first washed the okra and then added a good amount of kosher salt in my palm and rubbed the surface of the okra to remove the fine fuzz. I then washed it to remove the salt. I finely chopped the okra by hitting it with a blade (“tataki” たたき technique). I also set aside a few slices of okra for decoration. This way, the sliminess is not too bad. I happened to have “wasabi-zuke山葵漬け and used it to top the tofu as well. I also added finely chopped scallion. I could go on and added more items such as bonito flakes, perilla, nori, etc but I restrained myself to only these three toppings. For the sauce, instead of straight soy sauce, I used concentrated “mentsuyu” 麺つゆ from the bottle. This combination worked well and my wife found the fresh taste and minimal sliminess surprisingly quite acceptable (quite a step-up from “hated” okra).

As starters, I also served chicken breast (previously barbecued) with sesame dressing with blanched green asparagus and Campari tomato.

These two dishes are regular small dishes I make but small variations make them more interesting.

Comments on Facebook