Okra noodles with dashi and shisso

This dish came about because my friend Karen was growing okra in her backyard, and she gifted me with a ton of it when I hung out with her. My initial thoughts on what to do with the okra were either a curry or a gumbo, but then I thought about something lighter and more refreshing. Since okra is basically just slime with a slight bitterness, I knew that I could use that slime to my advantage. A lot of Asian cuisines treasure slimy and gelatinous textures, so I knew by going with a more Japanese-Chinese approach with the okra, it could be potentially really tasty! I went with Chinese-style potato noodles, using the okra slime to help bind them together – potato noodles on their own are 100% gluten free and have this lovely chew to them, while the okra slime is acting as another gluten substitute just to keep the dough from falling apart. I also used that okra slime to fortify a chilled dashi, giving it this luxuriousness and unctuousness that it would otherwise lack. To finish the dish off with, some okra pickles for that acidity, as the vinegar helps to mitigate some of the slime, and some okra and shisso tempura, just to add some texture to the dish. With this dish, I wanted to capture one of my favorite dishes, being zarusoba(cold soba with a dipping sauce) and tempura, while embracing the okra and using that in literally every component in the dish! I wanted to keep this dish 100% vegan and gluten-free, just to keep the focus on both the okra and the potato starch, since those are what I wanted to highlight with this dish.

For the okra noodles:
40g okra seeds and pulp
90g potato starch
120g hot water
a pinch of salt

Blend everything for 2-3 minutes or until smooth. Mix using a rubber spatula for another 4-5 minutes(or continue to blend for another 3 minutes on high), until the mixture forms into a thickened paste. Transfer the paste into a piping bag. Trim a 1/4-inch hole from the piping bag and pipe the dough into boiling hot salt water. Allow the noodles to float to the surface, about 2-3 minutes, before transferring into a cold water bath.

For the okra dashi:
5g kombu
2 dried shiitake mushrooms
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tspn granulated sugar
3 cups water
2 stems of okra, chopped up into smaller pieces

Bring everything to a simmer for about 35 minutes. Pour through a sieve to remove all of the solids. Refrigerate until chilled down completely.

For the pickled okra:
1 stem of okra
1 tspn salt
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup water
1 tspn sugar

Shave the okra thinly on a mandolin. Toss with salt to draw out the moisture from the okra. Combine the other ingredients and toss in the okra. Refrigerate together for about 10 minutes.

For the okra-shisso tempura:
4 stems of okra, seeds and pulp removed and sliced in half
8 shisso leaves
1 cup soda water, cold
1/4 cup potato starch
a pinch of salt
canola oil

Mix the soda water with potato starch and salt. Heat up 3 inches of canola oil in a pot to 330 degrees F(a cube of bread should turn golden brown in 10 seconds in the oil). One at a time, dip the okra and shisso pieces into the batter and fry until the batter stops bubbling. Drain on a paper towel to remove any excess oil.

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