Thai Basil Shrimp ‘n Okra

posted in: Recipes, Seafood | 19

Okay, so you won’t get any points from the 100-mile diet club with this recipe, since okra is grown in the South and the shrimp I got in Chinatown was caught or farmed probably in… the South. But you will have enjoyed a classic southern combination while satisfying your craving for spicy Thai basil stir-fry. Which is a gastronomic feat of very trifling importance bordering on nonsense. It’s Friday…

I’ve found that fresh and spicy Thai basil stir-fry dishes are easy to prepare once you have a few spices on hand: fresh chilli peppers (I used jalapeno because it was on hand; serrano would be good as well), a lime, some ginger, garlic, scallions and, of course, basil. The secret is not to use too much of any one spice (like the chillies), so that when combined, they create a harmonized whole. A dash of fish sauce is a welcome addition if you want to get a smack of pungent flavor. I did have a bottle of it around, but somehow forgot to use it in the cooking process; in the end, I didn’t miss it too much.


I substituted wild garlic stems (which taste similar to chives) for scallions since I’d plucked a bunch of them while foraging

Thai Basil Shrimp ‘n Okra
(makes 2 servings)

1/2 – 3/4 lb medium to large shrimp, peeled and de-veined
1 cup okra, fresh or frozen and thawed, sliced to 1/2″ pieces
1 tsp finely minced ginger
1 Tb finely sliced chilli peppers
1/2 tsp finely minced garlic
1-2 scallions, finely sliced
4-6 basil leaves
1 tsp sugar
1 Tb fish sauce (optional – or substitute with water)
juice of 1 lime (about 1-2 Tb)
2 Tb oil
Salt and pepper

After shrimp are peeled and de-veined, season with a sprinkle of salt and pepper and let marinate while you chop and prepare the rest of the ingredients. Combine fish sauce (or water) with sugar in a small bowl and set aside.

Heat oil in a large skillet with minced garlic and ginger until fragrant. Add chili peppers. Add shrimp and let cook on one side for a minute or so. Add okra and stir everything. Add scallions, lime juice, and fish sauce/water with sugar and stir thoroughly. Taste for seasoning, adding salt if necessary. Finally, stir in basil and serve immediately over rice.

Cost Calculator
(for 2 servings)

1/2 lb shrimp (at $4.50/lb): $2.25
1 cup okra (frozen): $1.00
1 jalapeno: $0.25
1 lime (at 5/$1): $0.20
1 tsp minced ginger: $0.15
1/2 tsp minced garlic: $0.05
2 wild garlic shoots (foraged): $0
5 basil leaves (from my plant): $0.30
sugar, salt, pepper, oil: $0.15

Total: $4.35

Health Factor

Five brownie points: Shrimp and other shellfish have enjoyed no great comeback in recent years after being chastised for their relatively high cholesterol. But they’re a delicious indulgence, and when eaten in moderation, in decidedly light dishes like stir-fries, they can do you no more harm than a few egg yolks. Okra is a great partner for this dish since it carries an abundance of vitamins like A, C, Iron and Calcium.

19 Responses

  1. Meredith
    |

    Swoon! That sounds delicious — wish you could make me some for lunch today. :D

  2. Kalyn
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    Can I come to lunch too when you make this for Meredith? Sounds fabulous.

  3. Kara
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    Oh, yum! I have a pot of Thai basil happily growing along and this looks perfect to start testing it out!

    And since I’m actually IN the South, I can still belong to the 100-mile club!

  4. Matt
    |

    Where can I actually get thai basil? When I go to Chinatown, I usually don’t find anything remotely resembling basil. As a matter of fact, I hardly recognize most greens when I’m shopping in Chinatown :(

  5. Teresa
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    That looks so good!

  6. cathy
    |

    Hi Matt: I’m drawing a blank… I thought I usually saw Thai basil at most of the Chinatown produce shops and groceries, but often I’ve been opting for the Western basil since it’s more readily available. I’ve seen Thai basil for sale as a plant at Farmer’s Markets, if that’s an option. As for other greens, I can understate your confusion. There’s a book on Asian veggies if you want to really get to know these well (http://www.amazon.com/Asian-Vegetables-Lemongrass-Produce-Delicious/dp/0811827593) — otherwise, I say dig in and decide what you like!

  7. Michael
    |

    Recipe sounds awesome, but I must ask, where in the world did you find shrimp for 4.50 a pound??? That is a more than amazing price.

  8. cathy
    |

    Hi Michael: It is a steal! I go to a fresh seafood market in Chinatown that’s right on the corner in front of you if you get out of the Delancey St. stop on the F train. They have many different types and sizes of shrimp, mine wasn’t even the least expensive. A good place to check out if you’re in NYC!

  9. Janet Gee
    |

    Being a New Orleans waiter, I feel fairly confident in saying those shrimp are probably from a farm in Thailand or China. If you eat Gulf shrimp alot, you can tell the difference just by taste. Gulf shrimp is never that cheap.

    Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. Please buy Gulf shrimp. Our shrimpers work very hard and need your patronage to stay in business.

    Lovely blog. I’ll visit often. J.

  10. AmericnJewl
    |

    I cooked this up tonight, with a few minor alterations…. and it was DELICIOUS! Thanks for the great recipe.

  11. […] few months ago, I posted a recipe for a Thai-inspired stir-fry of shrimp ‘n okra and received among other comments, this one, from […]

  12. TJ
    |

    Here in Tokyo I went to my local store, and saw some nice looking shrimp so had to get some, then the okra looked nice so bought some of that…oh I should have basil on hand always… so bought some of that. AND then walked home not to concerned about what I was going to do with my bag of goodies.
    However! Call it Kismet, but, poking around on the internet I find a lovely picture of some shrimp….THIS recipe pops up, FABULOUS! I just happen to have fresh okra and fresh shrimp! Can’t wait to get cooking!

  13. nat in texas
    |

    I am in charge of cooking dinner at my house, so i constantly look up new recipes. i have cooked a ton of different dishes and my father has never enjoyed one of my meals so much! thanks for the amazing recipe!

  14. […] a Pho chef, nor do I eat meat. Luckily, I’m an Internet genius and in two seconds, I found this gem of a recipe, on a site I should look into more at a later […]

  15. Warren B.
    |

    Truly a remarkable dish! I’ve studied with French chefs and broadened my horizons by7 dabbling with a little fusion Asian cuisine.
    About the only comment I could add is that sauce is sparse and a little creative manipulation is necessary if you wish to serve this over rice. Still, it’s lovely!

  16. Merna Sliz
    |

    Thanks for the instructions. I’m going to cook it this weekend!

  17. Cheryl
    |

    I threw in a little bok choy because I needed to use it before it spoiled, and i used fresh chives instead of scallions. Then, I served the entire thing over quinoa and it was magnificent! Thanks for this recipe, it is definitely one I will repeat often.

  18. Jezebel
    |

    Yum!! I had found some beautiful okra at a farmers market here outside of San Francisco! Love this method of cooking Okra. I went to school in SC and it was always overdone and gooey. I added the 1 limes’ rind because I love the taste of lime and this was a beautiful addition for me – if you like lime taste. I would also figure out how to stretch the sauce next time – it’s so beautiful, it needs to lace the rice! Thanks so much for posting!

  19. […] and the best mushrooms I’ve ever tasted. It has been fun learning to cook new things like Okra and Shrip, Amaranth Dal, or Japanese Eggplant with […]

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