Sharing the Love (of Okra)

Beef Recipes, Others, stew

Cooking and writing actually calm me down. And lately, I think I would not be the only one needing to simmer down. With the news being like they are, from here and there and everywhere, it is hard to disengage from it and not be angry at the world. But anyway, today is a new day and I will do my best to contribute love by cooking and writing more.

I fell in love with Okra because of Leena, a dear friend of mine in Chicago. Many years ago, Farah and I came by Leena’s house for dinner. She had prepared her fabulous Syrian stew made of okra and beef in this tomato broth (bamya). I was hooked and I would always order that stew whenever Jeff and I went to Mediterranean restaurants. I asked Leena for a recipe a while back but I never got a chance to make it. A few weeks ago, after a year of moving back to Indonesia, I began to miss all sorts of non-Indonesian cuisines. I thought of bamya. Found that recipe in my email and it was dated December 2013. That felt like a lifetime ago. Before Jeff and I bought a house in Michigan, before we had our daughter, before we sold the house, before we moved back to our homeland. Why does time move even faster once we hit 30, 35, or 36?

Anyway, I dedicate this article to my beloved, beautiful, fashion-inspiration source, Syrian friend, whose friendship I treasure, and whose homeland has been on my mind.

Below is her Okra Stew recipe, with a little bit of my touch

1 bag of fresh okra (here in Surabaya, the stores carry them fresh. One bag contains maybe 10-15 okras.) – Chopped into little cuts.
1 lb. (or 1/4 kg works too) beef stew meat
1 small onion – diced
4 cloves garlic – roughly chopped
3 fresh tomatoes – diced
Salt, pepper, basil, and oregano to taste
Jasmine rice
I added: a handful of parsley, a pinch cumin powder, coriander powder, and chili powder.
Prepare beef stew :
  • Heat up a little bit of canola oil, add onions. Cook for two minutes.
  • Add beef and cook to well done. Set aside.
  • In a deep saucepan, heat some oil and saute the garlic until pink.  Add okra.  With a wooden spoon, gently toss on medium heat for about 10 minutes, until “slimy strings” disappear.  Season with salt and pepper.
  • Add the beef and tomatoes to the okra pot. Let simmer for about 15 minutes.
  • I add chopped parsley, oregano, cumin, coriander, and chili powder to taste and let simmer for another 15 minutes more until everything is cooked and melded together. The okra should be so nice and tender once they are done cooking. Serve hot and with rice.

Enjoy and thanks for reading!



Yakiniku-Style Beef and Sauteed Onion


Yakiniku style beef with sauteed onion by Harini

Sometimes I run out of cooking ideas. When it happens, I employ the easiest technique to get inspired: asking my family and friends about their dinner menu plan :D. It was how this recipe came about. I sent a text asking a friend, “What are you cooking for dinner tonight?” She replied, “Beef cooked with onions. Easy breezy and delicious!” She told me that she cooked the beef (cube cuts) with salt, pepper, sweet soy sauce, tamarind juice and then set them aside on a plate. Then using the same pan she sauteed the onions, garlic, chili peppers, and bitter bean. Once the vegetables are done, she put the beef back in the pan and mixed the two together. Ah! That really sounded good and easy. I really liked that one-pan cooking method and the sauteed onion part. I love sauteed onion! See, these food talk rarely fail to spark cooking ideas in me.

I think the beauty of cooking is that it allows individual creativity. In dealing with recipes, most of the time I adjust spices and sauces based on what I have in the kitchen and my mood. In this case, I didn’t have tamarind or bitter bean. Also, I was in the mood for Yakiniku-style beef. So, borrowing my friend’s cooking method and some of the ingredients in her recipe, I created my Yakiniku-style beef and sauteed onion instead :D. The smokey and nutty aroma of sesame oil was so inviting. My sauteed onion added a hint of sweetness in the spicy sauce. Together they create this delightful flavor combination.

Ingredients for Yakiniku-style beef:

  • 1 pound of beef (I sliced it to thin cuts)
  • 4 tablespoon of sesame oil
  • 3 chopped garlic
  • 4 tablespoon of light soy sauce
  • 1/2  tablespoon of ginger powder
  • 1 tablespoon of chili powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon of black pepper

Ingredients for the sauteed onion:

  • 1 (smaller) sweet onion (slice into thin cuts)
  • 2-3 hot finger peppers (slice it into chunky cuts or thin cuts, your call)


  • Mix: sesame oil, chopped garlic, soy sauce, ginger powder, chili powder, and black pepper in a bowl. Add beef into the bowl and make sure  it is coated well with the marinade. Place it in a zip lock bag and let it marinade for 1/2 to 1 hour in the fridge.
  • Once marinating time is up, heat a large pan (over medium heat)
  • Add beef along with the marinade into the pan and let it sizzle. Cover with a lid and cook for 3–4 minutes while stirring frequently.
  • Once cooked through, remove meat from the pan (leave the sauce) and set aside
  • Reduce the heat a little bit. Using the same pan, with the sauce and oil from cooking the beef, saute the chopped onion and chili peppers. Cover with a lid and let them cook until the onions become soft and translucent. They should taste sweet and delicious.
  • Bring back the beef into the pan and mix it with the onion, chili peppers, and sauce. Cover with a lid and let them cook for another 2  minutes
  • Great to serve with jasmine rice.  Roasted sweet potatoes and asparagus also make good companies for this main dish.

Serve two

Yakiniku style beef with sauteed onion by Harini

Hope you like it. Thanks for reading!