How To Cook Okra

okra pods in a bowl

Have you ever tried to cook okra and found the dreaded slime-factor just too much? Well, have no fear, I’m going to teach you how to cook and enjoy this veggie superfood– without the slime!

Okra was once voted the most hated vegetable.  Personally, I can’t understand it.  As a Southern Gal, I have cooked with and loved okra all my life. It’s very easy to grow, versatile, and tasty.

And, it turns out, okra is a superfood, which is a very good reason to give it a try.  In fact, all y’all ought to be embracing okra for its powerful nutritional punch.

Okra is high in fiber, low in calories and packs in copious amounts of folate, vitamins C, K, and A, as well as being high in niacin, magnesium, manganese and beta carotene.  Okra can help lower blood sugar and promote colon health, and the extra vitamin C will give your complexion a healthy glow.

Still, I can sympathize with those who might not see the appeal of this humble vegetable. I’m not a big fan of Brussels Sprouts. (Although, truth told, if you slather them with enough bacon, I can manage to choke them down at family gatherings.)

The dreaded slime — or mucilaginous property of okra — that makes it so off-putting is actually the reason southerners use okra.  It is an inexpensive, natural thickener.  Used in stews and soups, it gives a very pleasant and savory flavor while adding a light thickening and body to the dish.  Gumbo, the nirvana of all southern concoctions, and the dish most closely associated with okra, gets its name from the Kimbundu word quingombo, which means of course, okra.

Read The Secret History Of Okra by Michael W. Twitty

While okra is delicious in gumbo, it is by no means the only way to prepare okra.  It can be roasted, sauteed, grilled or baked.  It is easily combined with other vegetables like tomatoes, corn, beans or peas and turned into wonderful dishes like succotash, or Maque Choux. No matter how you prepare it, okra is a healthy and delicious addition to any meal.  And it can be cooked without the gross slime.  Here’s how:

How To Cook Okra

  • To eliminate slime when sauteing, cook okra for a longer period over very low heat.

Sauteed Okra–Wash and remove the stem ends of about 1/2 pound of okra, then slice into rounds. (There is no need to remove the pod-end of the okra unless it is damaged.)

Place a cast iron skillet over your burner and heat for several minutes over medium heat, until hot.  Meanwhile, toss your sliced okra with a tablespoon or so of good olive oil, and season with a generous amount of salt and pepper.  Add okra to skillet and immediately reduce heat to low.  Allow okra to cook, stirring occasionally, for about 20-25 minutes, until it reduces slightly and no slime remains.  Adjust seasonings as desired.  Serve with a sprinkle of hot sauce.  Serves 4-6

  • To eliminate slime when roasting okra, cook at a higher temperature for a shorter time.

Roasted Okra–Wash okra, but don’t remove stems.  Toss whole okra pods with a tablespoon or so of good olive oil, season generously with salt, pepper and cayenne pepper, and put on a prepared baking sheet.  Pre-heat oven to broil.  Broil for 6-8 minutes, turning once, until okra is charred and sizzling.  Serve immediately.

  •  To cut down on the slime when using okra in soups or stews, gently saute okra in a separate skillet before adding to the pot.

Ta-daa!  Now you know the secret!  And now that you know it, don’t let your fear of okra stop you from enjoying this wonderful vegetable.

Feeling adventurous?  Try these wonderful okra recipes from around the web.

12 Best Okra Recipes

Bhindi Masala

Oven Fried Okra

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