Okra is an iconic Southern crop that is very popular especially in Louisiana. Also known as gumbo, ladies fingers or ochro, this vegetable is widely used all over the world in order to make amazing dishes. This plant can be grown in tropical or subtropical areas and warm temperate regions all over the world.
Where okra comes from is still widely disputed. This is because many have traced its origins in South Asia, Ethiopia and West Africa. The okra is prized for its edible seed pods. Although it is a very slimy vegetable, when prepared properly, it becomes a quintessential ingredient in many characteristic meals.
Do you know oregano is a great ingredient too? Click What Does Oregano Taste Like to find out about this popular herb.
Today, the okra is considered a Creole specialty. You would never be able to make an authentic dark Roux without it. Ask any Creole cooks and they will tell you that the okra is the secret to making a thick, rich gumbo. The Okra is also recognized as emblematic of African presence in the New World.
To help you know more about what okra tastes like, you need to understand what family it comes from. Okra belongs to the mallow family and it is related to cotton and cacao. It is green and elongated. It is called “lady fingers” because its pods grow out of the plant and protrude like fingers. This flowering plant is grown as a perennial but can be grown as an annual in warm temperate countries or regions.
The okra vegetable is considered mucilaginous. It simply means that it produces a “goo” or a slime when prepared. The slime is actually made out of soluble fiber. And although a lot of people tend to dislike it or misunderstand this property, you need to know that it is what actually gives the okra a distinct flavor.
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The okra is also very useful nutrition-wise, this is because it can be easily grown in developing countries in order to help fight against malnutrition and also to help combat food insecurity. Okra can be eaten raw, and it can also be prepared in simple salads, stir fried, deep fried or added into stews.
Okra contains a lot of water, as well as protein and carbohydrates. This makes it an ideal vegetable for both children and adult alike. It also contains fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, magnesium, and thiamin. This makes it great for improving digestion, as well as for supporting your overall health.
A lot of people actually say that they are afraid to try okra simply because at first glance, the green, elongated vegetable does not look very appealing. This vegetable is often misunderstood simply because on the outside, it has fine hairs and lots of slime when cut or cooked.
But when prepared or cooked properly, the okra actually has a mild flavor that some say tastes like the eggplant. Its texture though is very different simply because it is more fibrous and tender if picked at the right time. The slime that it has will also make the vegetable have a silky texture on your tongue.
Since its appearance does resemble peppers, this vegetable is not spicy at all. It does not have any overpowering tastes, except for the fact that it has a light nutty flavor especially when the seeds are eaten. The okra will also easily take on the flavor of the other ingredients that it is cooked with.
For many, the okra does have a dull taste, this is why many will consider its flavor as that of a boring vegetable. Fortunately, the okra can go well with condiments and dressings. Other people will also describe its taste as similar to green peppers but earthier and without any zing.
When eaten raw, the okra can provide a crunchy texture that a lot of people appreciate. This can only be done if the okra is harvested properly. When harvesting it, you need to be careful of the pants hairs as it can cause itching and you need to pick one that is bright green, without bruises and tips that are crisp.
Doing so will help you get okras that are perfect for salads and stir fry preparations. If you want to decrease its sliminess, you can cook okra by roasting, broiling or steaming. Drenching the okra in flour or in corn meal, then deep frying it will get rid of the most slime, it is also a popular Southern dish.
Another great okra preparation is pickling. This is another popular Southern treat and it is also very easy to do. Okra is also able to stand its ground when combined with meats, other vegetables and even Cajun seasonings. This is why it is great for chili or with corn, catfish and even with Andouille sausage.
If you want to get the true taste of okra, I highly recommend that you harvest one in season. Pick one that is tender, bright green and crisp. You can wash it and give it a bite, or chop it into bite-sized chunks so you can make a nice salad at home. If you hate its sliminess however, you should try cooking it.
One of the best preparations for Okra is definitely one that is meant for Cajun or Creole cooking. You can easily get rid of the slim by cooking a dish called smashed fried okra. You can also try cooking it into Gumbo or chili. Most people who are not that adventurous will want to mix it with strong flavors.
Keep in mind that okra is full of nutrients and that eating it is not just a great way to allow you palates to try out new flavors. It is also a great way for you to keep your body healthy. You should consider trying it yourself, and allow your children to taste or enjoy it as well.
Have you tried okra before? Give us your thoughts about it and share your experience with us in the comment section below
My name is Emily Taylor, gardening is my passion and I’m looking forward to sharing it with everyone. I know that there are millions of people out there want their backyard and garden be attractive just like their front yard, so I am here to help you create your own backyard paradise.