One thing that stands out about okra is its texture. Okra, which is often referred to as gherkins or lady fingers due to its elongated pods that protrude like fingers, emits a slimy substance called mucilage that can make it feel slippery and wet when mishandled during cooking.
The flavor of okra is mild and mellow with a taste that has been described as earthy or nutty, depending on how it’s prepared. Its flavor can be enhanced by cooking it with acid, such as lemon or vinegar. It is also a good addition to soups and stews because it helps thicken the liquid without losing its unique flavor.
While okra has a very distinctive texture, the mucilage it releases can be toned down by washing it and drying it thoroughly before cutting and using it in recipes. It is also helpful to use techniques that minimize contact with liquid, such as steaming and roasting. It is also important to cook it quickly so that it doesn’t become too mushy.
While there are people that can’t stand okra because of its sliminess, there are also many ways to avoid this issue and enjoy its flavor. For example, tomatoes can be a great complement to okra because their acidity can tame its mucilage. Other vegetables that can be used as substitutes for okra in fried preparations and soups and stews include eggplants, zucchini and other summer squash, and green beans. If you are looking for an even better alternative, nopal cactus makes a fantastic substitute because it is very similar to okra in both texture and flavor.