What is Okra?
Okra is an amazing vegetable with a large amount of flavor and tons of nutrients. It originated in Africa, which explains its abundance in the Southern United States.
Yet many people who are not from the South are not familiar with it or its wonderful flavor. The texture is unusual, the outside is very hard and stringy until cooked, and inside are little seeds that are covered in a substance with the same consistency as raw egg whites. Some people are turned off by the “slimy” substance inside the raw vegetable, but if you cook it correctly, you won’t notice anything but the unique and amazing flavor.
How Do You Eat Okra?
The most common way to prepare and eat okra is deep fried. You can buy it cut, battered and frozen in bags in most grocery stores. All you have to do is fry it. It’s a very tasty way to enjoy it, but not the healthiest preparation available.
Another common way to use okra is in stews, soups and in Cajun cooking in gumbo. You can also buy it without breading, sliced and frozen in a bag in many grocery stores, ready to add to soup or stew.
Okra also comes combined with tomatoes in a can, ready for you to heat and serve as a side dish for chicken, pork or beef.
You can also find okra chips both on the Internet and at Wholesome Choice stores locally, as well as at many other health food stores. It is freeze dried whole and you get that amazing okra flavor in a crunchy chip. It’s healthy and tasty – much better than potato chips. They sell it in bins at Wholesome Choice. It takes a while to pick it out of the bin with the little plastic tongs, but the reward is fantastic.
Tips on Buying Fresh Okra
If you prefer to use fresh okra, here are some tips for buying it. Buy only fresh, small to medium-sized tender vegetables. If it’s so hard that it doesn’t move when you hold it between your thumb and index finger and press on it, it’s too hard and too old to eat. Don’t buy it.
Look for the smallest pods you can find. The best okra pods should be anywhere from two to four inches long, with minimal brown marks and spots. If the okra has too many brown spots and is squishy it is beginning to spoil.
Good fresh okra is green, gives a little when you gently press it, and isn’t too large.
Best Okra Recipe
Finally, for the grand finale – the absolute best, fastest, easiest way to eat okra is as follows:
Take your whole fresh okra home, rinse it, put a handful of whole pieces in a microwave safe bowl, cover it, and microwave for one minute. Now check to see if it’s done; it should be soft and a fork should easily pierce the skin. If it’s not soft yet, cook for another minute, then check again and repeat until the outside skin is soft.
Sprinkle with salt and eat it whole with your fingers. It sounds crazy, but your taste buds will appreciate it. Make it as a fun and healthy finger food for the kids – you might be surprised how much they enjoy it.