Who doesn’t love okra? No, don’t answer that. For every okra devotee, there’s a vehement denier of its merits. This week, let’s give okra a chance by looking to the cultures that adore it for inspiration. Okra is beloved in Creole cuisine, a mix of European, African, and Native American influences, and finds an esteemed place in its gumbo. Southern cooking loves okra breaded with cornmeal and deep fried or served in succotash. If you’re a fan of Indian cuisine, you can make some bhindi masala or bhindi bharta. Okra is also a principal ingredient in a lot of African stews and tagines. Or do it kanto-style, by simply skewering them, drizzled with some olive oil, and grilling them over live coals before dipping them in spicy mayo or toyomansi. Halabos or steamed works great too, especially served with bagoong. To minimise its sliminess, cook okra whole…or embrace its mucilaginous property and use okra to thicken your dish and bring together the flavours of your different ingredients. That slimy stuff has also been proven to bind the cholesterol during digestion so that it can be discharged rather than absorbed by our bodies (Gemede, Hetta, et al, 2015). Pretty mighty stuff. So whatever you do, just #DontOkrayDaOkra.
Refrigerate unwashed, dry okra in the vegetable crisper, loosely wrapped in a cloth. Okra will keep for only two or three days. When ridges and tips of pods turn dark, it needs to be used immediately.