Lady finger (also known as okra) is a powerhouse of valuable nutrients, nearly half of which is soluble fiber in the form of gums and pectins. According to Ms Sylvia W. Zook, Ph.D. (nutritionist), this versatile vegetable has many important health benefits as belows:
1) stabilizes blood sugar level
2) binds cholesterol and bile acid carrying toxins dumped into it by the filtering liver.
3) prevents constipation
4) feeds good bacteria (probiotics) residing in our body.
5) good for those feeling weak, exhausted, and suffering from depression.
6) good for healing ulcers and to keep joints limber
7) treats lung inflammation, sore throat, and irritable bowel.
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To retain most of its nutrients and self-digesting enzymes, it should be cooked as little as possible, eg with low heat or lightly steamed. Some even eat it raw. My son and I love consuming lady fingers in a very simple way – steam lady fingers until cooked, cut into bite-sized pieces (for toddlers), toss with fried shallots oil and light soy sauce, and serve immediately. However, I have a big tot (my hubby) who doesn’t like lady fingers as much as we do. He always hinted at me to leave his portion out whenever I cooked lady fingers. Of course, I will never agree with him since this vegetable has so many nutritional values. After giving much consideration to these 2 tots’ personal preference and taste, I concocted the following simple and healthy recipe. To my surprise, my big tot happily ate the dish without complaint!
Instead of slicing the lady fingers, my method called for the lady fingers to be cooked with its entire stem intact. This will prevent them from becoming slimy during the cooking process. The chili shrimp sauce that is served together with it enhances the dish with the much needed tasty flavour to those who dislike the bland taste of cooked lady fingers. And, it goes well with plain white rice too.
I strongly recommend this recipe to those who dislike lady fingers. Besides the common method of either stir-frying or have them cooked and served in curry gravy, this dish makes the lady fingers more appealing to the palate. You may find them coming back for a second serving of rice (if there are still some lady fingers left). It can be finger-lickin’ good too!
A) CHILI SHRIMP SAUCE
30g dried shrimp (minced) – rinse, soak & pat-dry
4 pcs shallots (minced)
1 clove of garlic (minced)
½ -1 red chili (minced)
2 tsp oyster sauce
½ tbsp sugar
2 tbsp oil
1 tbsp water
1) Heat up oil in a small non-stick frying pan/ saucepan.
2) Sauté shallots, garlic and dried shrimp with medium heat until fragrant.
3) Add in red chili and seasonings. Stir-fry until mixed well. Bring mixture to cook until boil.
4) Adjust seasoning if necessary. Dish up and set aside.
B) LADY FINGERS (OKRA) – 10 STEMS
1) Wash and rinse the lady fingers.
2) Remove the top and tip (optional) of the lady fingers.
3) You can cook your lady fingers by way of steaming or blanching. But I prefer option (a) as it can retain most of its nutrients and self-digesting enzymes.
a) For steaming: Place the lady fingers on a steaming tray and steam until cooked. Discard water if any.
b) For blanching: Add water to a wok and bring it to a boil. Blanch lady fingers until cook. Dish up and arrange on a serving plate.
4) Pour the chili shrimp sauce over the lady fingers and serve immediately.
1) If your lady fingers turn dry, add some cooked shallot oil.
2) Do not over-cook the lady fingers until it turns soft and yellow in colour.
2) For toddlers, you can cut the cooked lady fingers into bite-sized for easy chewing.
3) When choosing okra, look for brightly coloured pod which is not more than 4cm long. Avoid dull, bruised, soft and blemished pods. (source: this link)
4) If you cannot finish using the sauce, keep it in an air-tighted container. It can be added when stir-frying other vegetables ie cabbage, french beans and long beans.
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