A slimy texture is not something that most cooks want associated with their meals. How unfortunate that okra just oozes it, literally. To make the vegetable more palatable and family-friendly, implement a few tricks when seasoning boiled and cut okra. Season the vegetable to accompany other dishes served during the meal.
Cut the okra into large pieces -- the smaller they are, the worse the slime texture will be after cooking. Soak the cut fresh okra in a solution of four parts water and one part vinegar for one hour at room temperature before you begin boiling it. Strain the liquid from the vegetables and thoroughly pat dry. This will reduce the slimy texture that often accompanies boiled okra and prevents the texture from overwhelming the flavors contained in the prepared vegetable. Fill a large pot with water and add a drizzle of lime or lemon when boiling the vegetable to further offset the undesirable texture.
Heat a spice mix in a skillet with a little oil before adding it to the okra while it's boiling. Or coat the vegetables with the spice mix right before serving. Lightly toasting the spices brings out their flavors while adding a slightly caramelized taste. Common spices for okra are those used in Southeast Asian cooking, such as cumin, turmeric, coriander or garam masala. Create a distinctly Southern American flavor by using chili, cumin and ground black pepper. You may also toast the boiled okra in the spice mix, creating a browned exterior on the vegetable as the spice flavors are accentuated through heating.
Chop fresh herbs and sprinkle them over the okra right before serving. This allows the herbs to retain both their bright colors and their flavors. If seasoning the okra while it simmers, sprinkle dried herbs into the boiling water. Oregano, sage, basil and thyme all suit the vegetable, and are mainstay flavors in gumbo, which features okra. Make fresh cilantro pesto with pine nuts and fresh lime juice, then place a dollop on okra just before serving.
Sprinkle salt on the okra just before serving. Do not salt the cooking water or the okra during the cooking process, because the sodium will draw out the slimy texture of the vegetable. Add salty flavors to the vegetable only at the end of the process. Rely on onions and garlic simmered with the vegetable to infuse the vegetable with flavor.
Based in Kingston, Canada, Samantha Lowe has been writing for publication since 2006. She has written articles for the "Mars' Hill" newspaper and copy for various design projects. Her design and copy for the "Mars' Hill" won the Associated Collegiate Press Pacemaker award in 2008. Lowe holds an Honors BA from Trinity Western University, and a MSc in Occupational Therapy from Queen's University where she is currently doing her PhD.
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