Okra, while usually referred to as and used as a vegetable, is actually a fruit. It might be most popular for its inclusion in gumbo. However, there are many other ways to eat okra.
Okra tastes somewhat like eggplant. It’s mild, slightly bitter, and has an earthy flavor. In addition, it does have a grassy taste as well. While the plant itself is fairly firm, it secretes a slimy substance similar to aloe.
Okra can be crunchy or tender depending on how you cook it. If you roast it, the okra will get tender and somewhat creamy.
You’ll also need to deal with the sliminess and we’ll talk about some options for that as well.
What Else Can You Compare Okra To
When food has a mild flavor, it’s often difficult to describe. So an effective way can be to compare them to other food that is similar.
In addition to eggplant, the closest substitutions for okra are fresh asparagus and green beans, and zucchini. They all have similar mild slightly bitter flavors but have the ability to absorb whatever is cooked with them.
They all also have a sort of light and refreshing quality about them.
While okra does have flavor and taste, its texture often overshadows that.
You can cook your okra quickly and that will give you a crunchy texture with a nice snap to it. You might, however, prefer your okra to be soft and tender. If that’s true, you can slow cook it and enjoy it that way.
If you oven roast okra, it takes on a similar texture to oven-roasted fennel. It takes on a creamier consistency.
Mucilage is the slimy part of okra we mentioned earlier. When okra is cooked, it’s released from the pods of the plant.
While there is nothing wrong with it, and it’s perfectly edible, it doesn’t always make for an appealing dining experience.
If a slimy texture turns you off, try some of these ideas to dry out your okra.
Before you cook your okra, slice them lengthwise and give them a rinse. This will remove some of the extra mucilage before getting started.
Choose a method of preparation that doesn’t involve extra liquid. Try to slip boiling and simmering and lean into grilling and pan-frying.
The longer the okra cooks, the more time it has to break down and release the mucilage. If you can cook your okra quickly, you can avoid a lot of the seepage.
However, if you want to thicken up a soup, stew, or gumbo, slow okra is a great way. It’s common for chefs to use the mucilage in okra as a thickening agent in various dishes.
One other thing to try is putting some acid in with your cooking, assuming it lends itself flavorwise. Drop a tablespoon or two of vinegar or lime juice in with your okra. These can go a long way to helping keep your okra dry.
If you can look past the slimy nature of okra, it’s a mild-tasting vegetable that goes well in multiple dishes. Due to its ability to absorb the flavors around it, it’s versatile and can help bulk up any meal.
More So than its taste, okra is known for its texture. Whether you are looking for something crunchy, tender, or creamy, okra can help you get there.