Column 1175 Tue May 10
Not many Chinese dishes use okra. When I was living in Hong Kong I often ate in Chinese restaurants but rarely saw dishes made with okra on the menu. Okra is sometimes called lady’s finger because it is long, slender, and finger-shaped. It is very popular in the Middle East, India, and the southern part of the US. In India it is used in a curry or stir-fried with curry power. Okra is called bamya in the Middle East. Bamya is also a popular Middle Eastern dish. It is a stew made with okra, tomatoes, and meat such as lamb. A stew is a dish made with meat and vegetables and cooked very slowly in liquid in a covered pan.
Okra is sometimes called gumbo in the southern part of the US. Gumbo is also the name of a popular dish in the US state of Louisiana. As I explained in my previous column, gumbo is a stew made with sausage meat, chicken or seafood, onions, celery, green bell pepper, tomatoes, and seasonings. Okra is added to thicken the stew. Okra is used to thicken the stew because it is very sticky and slimy. The word "slimy" comes from the word "slime" which means a sticky liquid substance such as the sticky liquid produced by snails. If you cut an okra you can see a sticky substance that feels like glue. Some dishes use tomatoes, lemon juice, or vinegar to make the okra less slimy.
Okra is a very healthy vegetable which is low in calories but high in vitamin C and fiber. I love eating okra. When I was in Hong Kong I used to buy okra in the supermarket. It is inexpensive. I washed the okra, cut off the ends, and then cut them into small round pieces. I then stir-fried them until brown with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper. This removes the sticky feeling of okra. It is a very good appetizer. Try it!
不是許多中菜會用上秋葵（okra）。我還在香港居住時，常在中菜館吃飯，但很少會見到用秋葵（okra）來煮的餸菜。Okra即秋葵，有時叫作 lady’s finger，因為它修長、纖細而像手指。它在中東、印度和美國南部非常受歡迎。在印度，它會用於咖喱，又或是用咖喱粉來炒。秋葵（okra）在中東叫作 bamya。Bamya也是一道很受歡迎的中東菜，它是用秋葵（okra）、番茄和肉例如羊肉所煮成的stew 。A stew 就是燉菜，用蓋上蓋的煲，以湯水慢煮肉和蔬菜。
秋葵（okra）在美國南部有時叫作 gumbo。Gumbo也是美國路易斯安那州一道很受歡迎的菜。正如我在上一篇文章中解釋過，gumbo即秋葵燉菜（stew），是用香腸肉、雞或海鮮、洋蔥、西芹、青燈籠椒、番茄和調味料煮成的，加上秋葵（okra）就能令燉菜（stew）變得更濃稠。用上秋葵（okra）可令燉菜（stew）更濃，是因為它非常黏和 slimy—— slimy是來自 slime一字，意指黏液，例如蝸牛所分泌的黏液。若你切開秋葵（okra），你可以見到感覺像膠水般的黏液。有些菜式會用上番茄、檸檬汁或醋去令秋葵（okra）不那麼黏糊糊的（slimy）。