Okinawa Tourism Information:Series/IslandBlessing,IslandTastePart12OkinawanOkra

Series / Island Blessing, Island Taste Part 12 Okinawan Okra

post : 2014.09.02 18:00

Okra (Japanese name: America Neri) is believed to be native to the north-eastern part of Africa.
Since 1970s, it has been eaten at Japanese homes and now is one of the popular summer vegetables.

We call okra “neri” in an Okinawan dialect.  The neri is a flowering plant in the mallow family Malvaceae called aibika.  The neri bloom flowers that look like “fuyou (Cotton rosemallow), which fascinate people very much. The word of the north-eastern part of Africa, “okra” is widely used as a universal language.

Okra is one of vegetables easy to grow in Okinawa as well.
Okinawa has a culture called “Ataiguwa (Home garden)” and okra is cultivated at home often.  It is characterized by beautiful flowers blooming to the sun and okra stretching up toward the sky.

A round and long okra characterize “Okinawan okra,” whose main producer is Okinawa. 

“Okinawan okra” is softer than common “square okra,” and you can eat it fresh for salad or marinated dish.

Uruma City, where we live, is known for a hub producer of okra in Okinawa. There are many irregular okras as well.
Prefectural Central Part Agriculture & Forestry Senior High School students designed “okra paste,” using irregular okras, to promote Uruma City.  With a cooperation of the communities, a new specialty product is produced.
They developed the okra pasted by the students to produce this “okra noodle.”
Okra-brilliant-green-colored, medium-thick noodle has a sticky texture and has a good flavor of okra.

At the local festivals and product exhibitions, the okra noodle is served like Okinawa soba noodle.  Every Friday, it is sold for home use at JA Champloo Market.

Today we would like to introduce you a summer dish using the okra noodle, a good idea product by Okinawan high school students.

【Cold Okra Noodle】

Ingredients (For 2 Servings)

*2 packages Okra noodle
*5 Okinawan okras
*1/2 Paprika
*1/2 Cucumber
*4 Shrimps
*1 Egg of kinshitamago (shredded egg crape)
*Kizami Nori (finely shredded Nori Sheets) as much as you please
*roasted white sesame seeds as much as you please

Seasonings:

*1/2 cups Dashi (kombu dashi for vegetarian)
*3 Tbsp. Soy sauce
*1and 1/2 Tbsp. Vinegar
*2 tsp. Brown sugar
*1 Tbsp. Sesame seed oil
*A pinch of Grated ginger
(Taste and adjust the balance of seasonings to your preference..)

Instructions:

1. In a medium saucepan, add seasoning and bring it to boil over medium high heat. Turn off the heat and store in the refrigerator until cool down.

2. Sprinkle salt over the okra and roll the okra back and forth on the chopping board. This process is called "itazuri." Cut two okras lengthwise for decoration and thinly slice the other 3. (If you like okra soft, you can boil them quickly, cool them in ice water, and squeeze the water out.)

3. Peel the cucumber and thinly slice diagonally. Then cut into julienne strips. Set aside.

Thinly slice the paprika and set aside.

4. Cook kinshitamago (shredded egg crape).

5. Remove back veins from shrimps.  Put small slits into the back of the shrimps. Soak the shrimps in salt and sake for 5 minutes and boil them quickly.

6. For the okra noodles, bring a pot of water to a boil and add the okra noodles and cook them about 30 seconds.  Drain the water and soak the noodles into a bowl of ice water to remove starch and cool.

7. Drain completely and divide the noodles and place all the toppings one by one on plates/bowls. Pour the seasonings.

8. Serve with roasted white sesame seeds and Kizami Nori on the side. It is ready to eat!

To your preference, you can add umeboshi (pickled ume fruits), kimchi, natto(fermented soybeans), tororo(grated yam), or onsen tamago*, or all of them, your okra soba will give you more stamina and even better taste!

* onsen tamago: a traditional Japanese low temperature egg which is originally slow cooked in the water of onsen hot springs in Japan.

Since we are getting tired because of the summer heat, we all want to perk ourselves up with okra noodles, which are good for over throat feeling

Okinawa CLIP Photo Writer Tetsumasa and Kozue Kono (monobox)

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