Stir fries are one great way of either using up a lot of vegetables that need consuming fast or just making simple veggies look special. Originally, I believe, stir fries are a selection of vegetables and sometimes with some kind protein tossed together on high heat with some oil, seasonings and sauces.
Okra is probably not a common vegetable in stir fries but when cooked properly, it makes a tasty combination. If you are not a fan of okra for its stickiness, then make sure to choose very tender ones when buying them. They are by far a lot more delicious both taste-wise and texture-wise. Then, in this stir fry, I recommend leaving them just a little crunchy. So while cooking them, to soften them, add a little water and salt but do not overcook them. I'd say around 8 to 10 minutes should be sufficient depending on how tender the okras are.
We decided to add in our starch into the lot, some corn pasta instead of noodles or rather than serving the stir fry over rice.
We did not have any fresh mushrooms on hand and we do love mushrooms, so we used some dried shiitake instead. I find shiitake mushrooms to be quite chewy though if hydrated just with cold water. So, I like to simmer them to soften them even more and also the heat rehydrates them faster. As you may know already if you have been reading this blog for a while, both Kevin and I are quite sensitive to onion and garlic, so we don't really use them in our recipes. But feel free to add these in as per your taste as indicated in the recipe.
Lemongrass Vegetable Pasta Stir Fry with OkraIngredients (serves 3 - 4)
250 g [8.8 oz] pasta (I used corn pasta)
10 dried shiitake mushrooms
1 lemongrass stalk
15 okra pods (ladyfingers) [about 200g, 7.1oz]
1 medium carrot
3 - 4 bunch bok choy greens
Zest from 1 lime
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 1/2 tablespoon maple syrup
3 heaped teaspoons minced ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, sliced (optional)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped or minced (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
In a small saucepan, cover the shiitake mushrooms with enough water and place on medium heat. Cover and simmer until shiitake mushrooms are soft.
In another larger saucepan, add enough water to cook the pasta in (about 2x - 3x the volume of pasta). Bring the water to a boil, then add in the pasta. Give it a few stir so that they don't stick to one another (especially if using gluten-free pasta). Boil for about 7 - 10 minutes or according to packet instructions. Then drain all water and rinse well in cold water to remove excess starch and to stop the cooking process immediately. Add one teaspoon of olive oil and mix well. Set pasta aside.
Meanwhile, prepare the vegetables.
Cut the carrot into quarters along the length and then into small cubes. Cut the okra into 2 cm (3/4 inch) length. Separate the bok choy leaves, wash them well to remove all mud and dirt. Cut into 2 cm length. Once shiitake mushrooms are soft, remove them from the water, allow to cool a little, then slice them thinly.
Cut the lemongrass stalk in about 5 cm (2 inches) length, then cut along the length into halves.
Begin stir frying the vegetables. In a wok on medium heat, add 1 teaspoon olive oil, then add 1 heaped teaspoon minced ginger and 1/2 teaspoon paprika. Add in the carrots, stir and let cook for about 2 minutes. Next add the okra and stir well. Let these cook for another 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the pan and set aside.
Now add 1 teaspoon of olive oil in the same wok on medium-high heat, add 1 teaspoon of minced ginger and 1/2 teaspoon of paprika. Add in the shiitake mushrooms. Stir and mix well. Add the tamari and maple syrup. Let the shiitake cook for about 3 minutes while stirring occasionally. Add a little water if necessary. Then add in the bok choy and 1/2 of the lime zest. Stir for 30 seconds and remove from the pan. Set aside.
In the same wok, add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, 1 teaspoon minced ginger and the lemongrass. Stir and add a little water to help release the fragrance. If using onions and garlic, add them now and cook for a few minutes. Next add in the pasta and stir well. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of paprika. Add all the cooked vegetables and the remaining lime zest. Add the lime juice. Stir, mix well and let cook for 1 - 2 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.