What is okra like?
Okra fruit cut in pieces
Okra is an elongated fruit of African origin, pointed finished. Its villous surface is green. Okra is collected when it is still immature, and it is characterized by its yellowish green color, tender skin and a thin white hairs covering the fruit.
This vegetable is consumed mainly in Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria, India, Iraq, Pakistan, Guatemala, Mexico and the United States.
Nutritionally, it is very rich in fiber, and contain antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E and beta-carotene. It is recommended in diets for cholesterol, weight loss plans, for hypertension and, as it have recently been discovered, okra possesses properties to improve memory.
* More information on the medicinal properties of Okra.
How to take Okra?
Okra is used in the kitchen similarly to other vegetables:
- No need to be peeled. You should clean the fruit well. The fine hairs you have on the surface can be easily removed with a paper or damp cloth.
- Cut the ends of okra, trying their seeds, with a very gelatinous texture, not to be released.
- Boil with salt to keep its flavor and properties.
- Cut into slices.
- It has a special flavor, like eggplant.
- Combine with cumin, allspice, coriander, mustard, ginger and cayenne pepper.
- Okra can also be sauted with onion, garlic, coriander and turmeric to accompany rice dishes; It is added to vegetable ratatouille with tomatoes, peppers and eggplant; or stir fried to add to vegetable tortillas.
Okra in gastronomy
Because of its presence in different cultures, you may find it cooked in many different ways:
- Boiled or steamed: It is the most common form of consumption. Gentle cooking retains most of its medicinal components. It should be thrown into the water when in boil, and cook for 10 minutes. If cooked too long, it becomes very soft and gelatinous.Season with olive oil and serve. It can also be flavored with butter and lemon.
- In soups, stews and sauces: Because of its mucilaginous consistency when cooked, it is an ingredient that is used as a thickener in soups and stews. In Japan a delicious miso soup is made with okra.
- Another special dish is gumbo. Gumbo is a traditional soup from Louisiana, we can find in restaurants of Mexico and southern United States, which is prepared with African (okra), American and European food. In short, a dish with a historical gastronomic heritage. It has a very long cooking, and served especially in the winter months.
- Fried and breaded okra: Okra fruits are cleaned and fry in hot oil. In some regions, one or two pieces of tamarind are added. They can also be battered and fried in corn flour, resulting in a crisp and delicious texture.
- Baked: Okra cleaned and placed in a baking pan with a little oil, salt and pepper. It is cooked and served as a side dish. There is also a variant in which it is sprinkled with grated cheese and butter, a delicious dish of vegetables ideal for children.
- Salads: Only prepared with the very small and young pods, when they are more tender. They are cut and prepared in a salad with onion, tomato and garlic.
- Pickles: they are prepared in brine and vinegar with spices. Snack consumed.
Other okra preparations
- The Malaysian cuisine uses it sometimes to prepare Ulam, a traditional dish in which the entire pod is cooked along with rice.
- In Thailand Yong Tow Foo is prepared. Okra is opened, inside is empty, filled with pasta and fish or meat paste.
- The Greek kitchen prepares the Bámies leaders, a stew of okra and vegetables.
- In Cuba a traditional dish called quimbombo is done with pork tenderloin and okra (Quimbombo is the name given in Cuba okra).
- A very popular Arabic dish is Okra in Deyeka, meatloaf and okra, highly prized in the East.
- Seasoning: Dried leaves and seeds are used as a condiment.
- Coffee substitute: in Arabia and in some countries of Africa, the seeds are ground and used as a coffee substitute, of appreciated flavor.
Where to buy Okra?
Okra can be purchased in South African, Eastern or Asian local markets and food stores. You must be purchase fruits of small size (about 7cm long.).
Because it is a vegetable that is consumed tender, it should be consumed within a few days. Store in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.
A common mistake is to buy too old or mature okra, which has a less pleasant taste, it is very rich in fiber and hard to chew. We must seek tender, bright, firm and crisp fruits. Avoid buying those that are damaged.
We can find white or purple varieties, although they are less common in the markets.
More information on okra.