Okra is a popular vegetable in many parts of the world. Where okra originated is up for debate, but many believe it came from Africa or South Asia. Okra is an important vegetable in Southern cooking. It was probably brought to the U.S. from Africa in the early 1700s. By 1800, it was a common vegetable across the Southern U.S.
The characteristic "slimy" substance helps to thicken gumbos and other soups, but the texture can be off-putting when okra is cooked in other ways, particularly if the dish contains liquids. There are some ways to reduce the sliminess. Acidic ingredients can help decrease the unpleasant texture. A bit of lemon juice, tamarind, or vinegar can help, or cook the okra with complementary tomatoes. Or try soaking it in a vinegar and water solution, a method that many cooks swear by—for each cup of water, add 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar or white vinegar. Because the goo in okra interacts with liquids, it is also important to dry the pods thoroughly and cook them quickly (to avoid steam). Fried okra and roasted okra also tend to be less slimy.
- 1 pound okra
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 tomato (or about 1 cup of diced canned tomatoes)
- 1 large onion
- Dash cayenne pepper (or more to taste)
- 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/4 teaspoon mild curry powder (or to taste)
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Black pepper, to taste
- Wash the okra pods and dry them thoroughly. Cut off and discard the tips and stem ends from the okra pods. Cut the okra into 1/2-inch rounds.
- Heat the oil in a large heavy non-stick or well-seasoned iron skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot and shimmering, add the sliced okra and stir-fry for 10 minutes, stirring and turning frequently to keep it from sticking.
- Meanwhile, core the tomato; remove the seeds and dice it. Peel the onion and cut it into quarters; slice thinly. Set aside.
- When the okra is beginning to brown, add the diced tomato, sliced onion, cayenne pepper, turmeric, and curry powder, to taste.
- Continue cooking for about 3 minutes longer, or until the onions are tender.
- Taste and add kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, as needed.
When choosing fresh okra, look for bright green pods no longer than 4 inches. They should be firm and free from blemishes and damage. One pound of fresh trimmed okra yields approximately 4 cups of slices.
If you like to experiment with flavors when you cook, here are some complementary seasonings and ingredients:
- Creole or Cajun seasoning blend
- Curry powder
- Hollandaise Sauce
- Sweet bell peppers
- Tomatoes and tomato sauces
|Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)|
|Total Fat||5 g|
|Saturated Fat||0 g|
|Unsaturated Fat||3 g|
|Dietary Fiber||3 g|