One of the vegetables that spark curiosity among people is okra. Although it has the characteristics of a fruit, it is considered a vegetable. Okra is truly unique with its taste and texture. It is known for its slimy texture and fabulous taste around the world.
What is Okra
Okra is a vegetable that has a specific taste and texture. It is originally grown in tropical weather. So it is considered food grown in Asia and Africa. It thrives in very hot and humid weather which is why it is also native to an African country called Ethiopia. It also grows in India, Mexico, the USA, and some African countries. It has many other names like lady finger, gumbo, etc. It is well-known in many other countries too.
The names come from the shape of it. Okra looks like a cylinder-shaped vegetable that is slender and has a narrow top much like a finger. The color is green like the exterior of the pod of green beans. Inside that, you will find white seeds that look like the seeds from papaya but differ in color. The top of the vegetable has a cap that you won’t be eating.
Once you cut it open it resembles the shape of a flower because of the multiple stripes around the tube. The taste of Okra is just as unique as its look of it. And it should certainly make you eager to know what it tastes like. Without further do, let’s describe that
What Does Okra Taste Like
Okra is a unique and flavorful vegetable that is a part of many cuisines as we said before. It is commonly used in southern dishes mainly. It is also a popular ingredient in southern-style cooking.
The taste of okra is often described as earthy, slightly bitter, and nutty. it has a slimy texture, which can be quite unappealing to some people. But it also adds to the overall experience and creates a unique taste in the entire dish.
The sliminess tones down when cooked correctly, leaving behind a tender and delicious dish that is full of nutrients. The taste can be compared to eggplants, green beans, etc. You will get the best taste of it if you eat it from summer to the beginning of fall.
Raw okra might feel like crunchy grass. The flavor is regularly compared to earthy and nutty. Some people also like to call the raw flavor silky. Fried okra however will be sweet, and soft with a crunchy exterior and grassy. This type of silky texture complements dishes like a salad where different types of veggies and fruits are mixed. Okra adds another flavor to it. Okras flavor can be enhanced by cooking in low heat.
It becomes tender and loses the extra sliminess. This type of cooking is seen in the USA and India too. But okra is actually an uncommon vegetable in Europe. Unlike other countries, they won't have dishes with okra in it. Okra is famous for being used in soups and stews. It adds flavor, and nutrition to dishes, and is often used in a popular dish in Louisiana. The okra adds thickness to the dish, and its earthy and nutty flavors are a great complement to the spicy and savory flavors of Louisiana food.
Okra can be prepared in many different ways, such as fried, grilled, roasted, or steamed. Each method can bring out different textures in the okra. Fried okra is a popular Indian dish. It becomes crispy and crunchy, and the earthy and nutty flavors are more prominent in this way. Which makes it very appealing. If you have ever had fried cauliflower, you can predict the taste of it. Grilling and roasting okra can be a great way to cook okra if you are not a fan of its slimy texture.
Roasting brings out a specific texture of Okra that is not seen in any other way either. On the other hand, steaming okra is helpful when you want to retain its nutrients. It can also be a good way to keep the natural taste without any added spices or seasonings.
What Makes Okra Slimy
After the description of the texture of okra, the common question that arises is what makes it so slimy. The interesting fact about okra is that it belongs to the flower species despite being a vegetable. Okra pods that we previously said look like fingers contain a substance that has a texture like gel. Okra pods are also known to be mucilaginous which makes the texture slimy.
If you are worried about the sliminess too much there are methods to tone it down. If you thoroughly wash it and then dry it before cooking the sliminess goes away. Overcooked okra increases the slime and ruins the fresh taste. Even harvesting okra needs to be done properly to avoid tasting bad. Okras' recipe doesn’t end with cooking. You can find a bottle of pickled okra to start your okra journey with a sour and tangy taste.
Health Benefits of Eating Okra
Okra adds multiple nutrients to our dishes. From protein to minerals, okras provide us with a lot of valuable nutrients. According to USDA, 100-gram okra has 33kcal energy, 1.93-gram protein, and lots of other minerals like zinc, potassium, magnesium, etc. Okra is popularly known as a vegetable that makes you lose weight faster.
What it does is it can cut down on your calorie intake by making you feel full faster. It can also suppress hunger. But it should be taken at a healthy amount with the consultation of a doctor. Apart from that, okra can also help with diabetic people. Vitamin K in okra helps control cholesterol and control high blood pressure. It is also enriched in vitamin C which can boost your immunity.
How to Select a Fresh Okra
In order to select you can try to check its color of it. Fresh okras are green in color. If you see a brown spot that means the okra is bad. Don’t buy the discolored okras. Next, you can try to feel the okras by pressing firmly. If it’s so hard that you can’t push your finger at all, that means the okra is not yet ready to be cooked.
If it's too soft, then it's probably rotten. The perfect okra will be firm. Too big or stuffed okra should be avoided too as they are old.
Okra’s unique taste will be enhanced if cooked in a specific way. In fact, the way you cut and wash it will make a difference in the taste too. The delicate vegetable needs extra care while cooking. You can find recipes and techniques from established chefs here on how to cook okra