Okra Tempura with Lime "Fonzu" Dipping Sauce


For those who aren't fond of okra's gooey quality, there are two surefire ways to keep it in check: high-heat cooking and a dose of acid. Executive Editor Karen Shimizu's recipe for okra tempura with a zippy dipping sauce incorporates both. The "fonzu" sauce—inspired by ponzu—uses lime juice instead of harder-to-find yuzu and a shortcut of fish sauce instead of steeping in katsuobushi. Scoring the okra from the tip almost all the way to the stem before frying it provides more surface area for the tempura batter to cling to, for extra crunch, while leaving the okra substantial enough to stay tender on the inside.

Okra Tempura With Lime Fonzu Sauce
Photo: Photo by Linda Xiao / Food Styling by Kate Buckens / Prop Styling by Maeve Sheridan
Total Time:
55 mins


Lime "Fonzu" Dipping Sauce

  • ¼ cup soy sauce

  • ¼ cup mirin

  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

  • 4 teaspoons rice vinegar

  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

  • 1 teaspoon high-quality fish sauce (such as Red Boat)

  • ¼ cup water, or more to taste 

Okra Tempura

  • 16 ounces fresh medium okra, stems trimmed but caps intact 

  • 1 cup (about 3 3/4 ounces) plus 1 Tablespoon cake flour, divided 

  • 4 cups peanut oil

  • 1 cup cornstarch (about 4 1/2 ounces) 

  • 1 cup chilled club soda

  • ½ cup (4 ounces) vodka, chilled

  • 2 large egg yolks, lightly beaten

  • Kosher salt, for sprinkling 

  • Lime wedges, for serving 


Make the lime "fonzu" dipping sauce

  1. Stir together soy sauce, mirin, lime juice, vinegar, sugar, and fish sauce in a medium bowl until sugar is dissolved. Stir in 1/4 cup water or more to taste. Set aside.

Make the okra tempura

  1. Starting just below the cap, slice okra pods in half lengthwise. Rotate a quarter turn, and slice lengthwise again to cut okra into quarters, leaving cap attached. Place okra in a bowl, sprinkle with 1 tablespoon cake flour, and toss to lightly coat.

  2. Line a baking sheet with paper towels. Heat peanut oil in a wok over medium-high to 340°F. Adjust heat as necessary to maintain temperature.

  3. Whisk together cornstarch and remaining 1 cup cake flour in a small bowl. Combine club soda, vodka, and egg yolks in a large bowl; stir until just combined. Set on top of an ice bath. Add cornstarch mixture to club soda mixture all at once. Stir very briefly with chopsticks until barely combined. (There should be lumps of the flour mixture and a ring of flour around the edge of the batter.)

  4. Holding okra by the cap, dunk 5 or 6 okra in batter, swishing briefly so batter coats the sliced okra, and slide, 1 at a time, into hot oil. Cook in batches until batter is puffy, light golden, and crispy, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer okra to prepared baking sheet; sprinkle with kosher salt. Serve okra immediately with "fonzu" dipping sauce and lime wedges. 

Make Ahead

Dipping sauce can be made up to 3 days ahead and stored in an airtight container in refrigerator.

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