Spicy Okra with Prawns Recipe

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Okra (or ladies’ fingers as they are known here) is a versatile vegetable by virtue of its succulent plainness. It makes a fine addition to many curries and is wonderful simply steamed whole and eaten with spicy sambal and fresh lime juice.

Serves 3–4 | Cooking time: 10 mins | Preparation time: 15 mins


  • 16 stems okra (about 250 g/8 oz total)
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 300 g (10 oz) fresh prawns, peeled
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 5 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

Spice paste

  • 3 red finger-length chillies, deseeded
  • 8–10 Asian shallots
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, tender inner part of bottom third only, sliced
  • 6 candlenuts or macadamia nuts
  • 1 scant teaspoon dried prawn paste (belachan), dry-roasted
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground turmeric


  1. Trim off the okra stems and pointed tips. Cut the okra into bite-sized lengths and blanch them in boiling water for 1-1/2 minutes, then drain well and rinse with cold water. This helps to reduce the stickiness.
  2. Grind all the Spice Paste ingredients together until fine. Heat the oil in a wok over medium-high heat and stir-fry the Spice Paste until thick and fragrant, 3–4 minutes.
  3. Add the okra and stir-fry for 1 minute, then add all the remaining ingredients and fry for 3–4 minutes until the prawns are cooked through. Serve immediately.

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Cover courtesy of Tuttle Publishing

Excerpted with permission from Singapore Cooking by Terry Tan & Christopher Tan (Tuttle Publishing).

Mother Earth Gardener
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