Recipe courtesy of Psychologies Magazine and taken from Japan: The Vegetarian Cookbook written by Nancy Singleton Hachisu.
‘Summer-grown okra and tomatoes so together well. Here the fresh tomato sauce is intentionally light to balance the fried element of the okra’
5 medium tomatoes
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil
5 large capers, finely chopped
2 small Japanese green olives or Picholine, pitted and finely chopped
1 tbsp olive brine (from the jar of olives)
1 green shiso leaf, finely chopped
Neutral oil, such as rapeseed, for deep-frying
200g okra, brown portions of tops pared off
1 tbsp potato starch
- Finely dice 2 of the tomatoes and scrape into a bowl. Stir in the vinegar, olive oil, capers, olives, olive brine, and shiso. Refrigerate to chill.
- Slice the remaining 3 tomatoes into rounds 1cm thick and sprinkle with ¼ tsp salt. Heat a large well-seasoned cast-iron skillet or non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat. Place the tomatoes in the pan in one layer and sear for about 2 minutes on each side to caramelise. Line a dinner plate with overlapping layers of the tomatoes. Once cooled, refrigerate to chill.
- In a high-sided saute pan, heat 3cm oil over medium-low heat until you can feel heat rise from the pan. The oil temperature should be lower than normal frying temperature, about 160oC.
- Arrange the okra horizontally to you on a cutting board and sprinkle with ½ tsp salt. Roll the okra in the salt with your flattened palms to break down the fibres a little. Wipe off the salt and any moisture with a paper towel, and halve the okra lengthwise. Dust lightly with the potato starch, shake off, and sip into the oil. Fry, turning for about 1 minute. Drain briefly on a rack set over a pan to catch the drips. Once cool, refrigerate to chill.
- Once chilled, divide the tomato among four salad plates to one side so they are overlapping slightly. Arrange the okra in the middle of the plates or stack them in the centre so the okra tops are laying across the bottom of the tomato slices. Sprinkle evenly with ¼ tsp salt. Spoon the tomato sauce over the okra, allowing the okra to peek through. Or mound the tomato sauce over some of the bottoms of the stacked okra at the opposite side of the plate from the tomato slices. Serve as a light side course.