As we mentioned in our post, Okra: Part 1, okra seeds were probably first brought to America hidden in the hair of enslaved West Africans, who made it a central ingredient in many well-known Creole/Cajun dishes, such as Gumbo (we love this recipe for Seafood Slowcooker Gumbo from Black America Cooks). The mucilage that helps okra thicken stews like gumbo is the ingredient that makes it so good for slowing absorption of sugars, and so healthful for people who are concerned about Type II Diabetes. It’s also the ingredient that turns so many people off to the vegetable. Why? Because when okra isn’t cooked properly, this mucilage can turn any dish into a gloopy mess!
How to Cook Okra without the Slime!
The general rule is that the longer okra is cooked, the more mucilage it releases and the slimier it gets. This is also true for okra that’s cut into pieces – the smaller the pieces, the more mucilage is released in cooking. So, when using cut okra, the following techniques are helpful for making sure you get all that slimy goodness inside your body, but little or no slime as your eat it:
- Cut it into larger pieces and add it towards the end of the cooking process;
- Cook the whole pod, as in this easy recipe for “bhindi” (the Indian word for Okra) from AllRecipes.com;
- Before adding other ingredients, cook your okra over medium heat in a small amount of oil, stirring constantly until the “slime” disappears, as in this ymmy and healthful recipe for Okra, Tomatoes and Shrimp from the “Real Soul Food Recipes” website.
Certain cooking techniques that are good for reducing the slime include:
- Deep-frying – try this healthier recipe for Oven Fried Okra from “Alley Cat in the Kitchen;”
- Pickling – this version by Molly53 on Soul.Food.com serves as a great spicy accompaniment to roasted meats;
- Roasting! Our recipe below!
Today’s recipe, Easy Roasted Okra with Creole Seasoning, uses the spice mixture featured in our “Savory, Soulful Recipes” brochure, which you can download from our website.
Mix the following together and store in an airtight container. Use in place of seasoning salts:
3 tablespoons onion powder
4 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon cayenne
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 teaspoons ground thyme.
4 servings, 166 mcg of folate (44% RDA) per serving
- 4 cups fresh okra (not frozen)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1-2 tablespoons creole seasoning
Preheat an oven to 425 degrees.
Place the okra in a bowl or plastic ziplock bag and toss with olive oil. Arrange the okra in one layer on a foil lined baking or cookie sheet. Sprinkle with the seasoning salt.
Bake in preheated oven for 20 – 25 minutes until they turn brown and become crisp. Enjoy!