Okra is a finger like seed pod, native to Ethiopia. There is a rich history behind the okra, being brought to North America by enslaved people and early settlers. Now, okra is essential in Southern, Caribbean and Indian cuisines.
Okra is the seed pod of a yellow flower that grows at a rapid rate in tropical climates. Okra in New Zealand is imported from Fiji, but India is the leading producer worldwide. Younger pods are best for eating, as the older they are, the
woodier the texture becomes. Okra contains mucilaginous gum, which works to naturally
thicken stews, curries and braises. Some people love the ‘slimy’, silky texture it develops when slow cooked, whereas others find it polarising. Okra is one of the main ingredients
in the famous ‘gumbo’, a Louisiana stew derived from the French bouillabaisse, where its thickening properties are essential.
Turn whole fingers or bite sized pieces of okra into a crunchy bar snack. Coat in southern spiced cornmeal or breadcrumbs, deep fry, then serve with a Louisiana remoulade.
Bring out the earthiness of okra by grilling on a hot BBQ. Serve on its own or use in a plated meal with BBQ meats or some crispy fried halloumi. Add okra into curries, stews and braises. Pair with fragrant Indian, Cajun and Creole spices. Use as the hero in the dish or alongside lamb, seafood, chicken and complementary vegetables. Stir-fry okra with chicken and a soy-based marinade for a saucy, smoky lunch item. Toss okra with a hint of lemon, a pinch of chilli powder, olive oil, garlic and salt, then roast in a hot oven. Serve as a seasonal green side dish or pair with grilled prawns. Balance the grassy notes of okra with dried apricots, shallot,
capsicum and tomatoes. Okra is a great product to pickle, use in salads or ploughman platters.
Okra is available in New Zealand and is generally grown and imported from Fiji.