I know there are many folks who sometimes find the “slimy” texture of okra to be unappealing, even off-putting, but over the years I have taken a liking to okra, and hunt for it in a good pinakbet, sinigang, or other mixed vegetable dish. So I was intrigued the other day when I saw Mark Bittman (food critic and author) on television with an Indian chef cooking up a dish of thinly sliced and fried okra. I had intended to experiment with a similar recipe, but at the last minute wondered “what if” I added a tablespoon of taba ng talangka or small crab coral or roe to add flavor and richness to the dish…
Our friend and neighbor had sent over a bottle of wonderful homemade pure taba ng talangka, and while Mrs. MM likes it simply mixed with hot rice, I find it can be a bit overwhelming, not to mention overly rich. I suspected that if it was mixed in with lots of vegetables and maybe some dayap or limes to introduce some acid to counterbalance the fat, then it might work nicely. I sliced several okras on the diagonal, quite thinly. Then I heated up a saute pan, added some vegetable oil and butter, and when it was hot, added the okra and only occasionally flipped the contents. Don’t over stir, the Bittman guest chef had said, or that can add to the sliminess factor.
After a minute or so, I added a scant tablespoon of taba ng talangka to the pan, tossed it some more, added salt and pepper to taste, squeezed some dayap or lime juice over top, and served this hot with some steamed rice. I thought it was pretty darned good. The okra was cooked but not slimy. It was a bit like sliced baguio beans in texture and mouthfeel but not as chewy. The taba ng talangka flavor was distinct but not overly rich or cloying. Lots of dayap juice brightened up the dish and cut the richness of the three types of fat (vegetable oil, butter, and crab coral). Excellent with rice. Another way to enjoy okra other than the standard soup or pinakbet. And incredibly economical to boot. If you are a fan of okra and taba ng talangka and looking for another way to enjoy the two, try this dish the next time you are in the kitchen. Yum.