1 May 2011

Okra (Abelmoschus esculentus)

"Okra, known in many English-speaking countries as lady's fingers or gumbo is a flowering plant in the mallow family. It is valued for its edible green seed pods. Originating in Africa, the plant is cultivated in tropical, subtropical and warm temperate regions around the world."

Okra is coming into season.  It is quite fiddly to prepare and is an acquired taste as it tends to become quite slimy when it is cooked.  "The products of the plant are mucilaginous, resulting in the characteristic "goo" or slime when the seed pods are cooked; the mucilage contains a usable form of soluble fiber. While many people enjoy okra cooked this way, others prefer to minimize sliminess; keeping the pods intact and cooking quickly help to achieve this. To avoid sliminess, okra pods are often briefly stir-fried, or cooked with acidic ingredients such as citrus, tomatoes, or vinegar. A few drops of lemon juice will usually suffice. Alternatively the pods can be sliced thinly and cooked for a long time, so that the mucilage dissolves, as in gumbo. The cooked leaves can also be used as a powerful soup thickener.  The immature pods may also be pickled."
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