Most people seem to have strong opinions about this vegetable and usually it’s the slime that people don’t like. Thankfully there are some tricks to minimizing the slime. The more you cut okra the more slime you’re going to have to deal with so if you simply trim the ends without cutting the okra ‘capsule’ you won’t have as much slime. Once trimmed you can throw them in boiling water until just tender, dress with lemon juice and a bit of salt and you’ve got a great side dish to any meal. A large amount of slime usually also has to do with overcooking that’s why it’s perfect for soups and gumbos. Actually gumbo gets its name from Okra, which used to be the key ingredient, because ‘gombo’ is french for Okra (the French got ‘gombo’ from the Bantus). In gumbo, okra’s consistency is used as a natural thickener. The good news is that okra is also really healthy. It’s low in calories, has no saturated fats or cholesterol, and has lots of dietary fiber. So it’s really worth loving!
Another trick to okra is knowing what to look for when you’re buying it at the market. The smaller the more tender they will be. The larger they are the more likely it is they will be ‘woody’. Pods should snap easily in half. And once you’ve got them home it’s good to eat them up in the first couple days since the cold temperatures are not that good for them. Read below for some great flavor affinities from my trusty Flavor Bible:
- bell peppers
- chile peppers
- corn and cornmeal
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