Here’s a simple and tasty recipe for okra with onions that we made in a Middle Eastern/Mediterranean cuisine course with Chef Pal (that’s his real name! How awesome is that!) the other day.

Now you might be thinking like I did: okra in Mediterranean cuisine? Isn’t that the slimy green pepper-looking wannabe that I’ve had in gumbo?



The exact origin of okra is still disputed, but it is actually seen in cuisine around the world including Africa, Asia, the Americas, India, Middle East. It is also apparently pretty damn good for you being packed with fiber, Vitamin C, and antioxidants just to name a few.

According to Chef Pal, the key to keeping your okra unslimey is “Don’t mess with it” aka be gentle, keep the pods intact.

Sautéed Okra with Onions


  • Okra                       1 lb, rinsed, trimmed, halved
  • Onion                    1 large or 2 medium, diced
  • Garlic                    5 cloves, finely chopped 
  • Coriander            1 tbsp, powdered
  • Water/Stock       1.5-2 cups
  • Cooking oil         3 tbsp
  • Salt & Pepper     To taste


  1. Rinse okra, trim (take off a bit of the stem and tip without jeopardizing the pod yet), and slice into halves longitudinally.
  2. Heat up 3 tbsp of oil in a pan.
  3. Add onion and cook until translucent.
  4. Add in okra halves and sauté until slightly brown.
  5. Add coriander and garlic. Mix well. (This should start smelling really good)
  6. Add water/stock* to pan and simmer. This will help finish cooking the okra and soften it up a little.
  7. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately or let chill( squeeze a bit of lemon juice on before serving if you are chilling)

*I started off using water before Chef Pal came along and doled out a nice ladle full of broth in my pan at some point. I think this added a lot of flavor and reduced the amount of salt I had to add at the end.





The Cutting Edge

Sarah and I feel very fortunate to get to spend an entire month at Johnson & Wales for culinary school. Although we spent most of today figuring out all the logistics for this rotation, we did take time to do something very important.


Sarah sharpening a knife with whetstone

Now if you’re like me, you might think sharpening your knife like this in front of your friends makes you look like a badass:


In fact, you just made yourself look like a jackass because this is NOT sharpening but rather ‘honing.’ Honing does NOT sharpen a knife, but rather just straightens the edge. I could go on but Alton Brown does a much better job in this video.

There are many techniques for sharpening, but it seems most culinary people use a whetstone that you can lubricate with oil or water (I prefer water because it is a bit less messy). Today, Chef Todd recommended getting one with 1000 & 6000 grit. Unless you let your knives completely go to hell, chances are you won’t need something much coarser. There are plenty of great YouTube videos on how to use a whetstone appropriately.

Remember kids: Dull knives are way more dangerous and cause more accidents than sharp knives. Stay sharp!



What’s in a name

‘Renmaicha’ is a play on our last name, ‘Ren’, and the Japanese term ‘genmaicha.’

Genmaicha is a brown rice tea, colloquially referred to as ‘popcorn tea’ because some of the grains of rice pop during roasting, resembling popcorn*. This tea is also known as ‘people’s tea’ as it is consumed by all segments of society. Wikipedia describes it as “satisfying full body…eminently drinkable, relaxing, and soothing to the stomach.”

Our aim in writing this is to provide simple, accessible, and delicious recipes and tell you tales that represent both the best of the cultural heritages we were born into and those we have adopted along the way.

*Sarah is also obsessed with popcorn.