Much hullabaloo is made about okra's peculiar looks and not insignificant "slime quotient." My suggestion? Just go with it! There's much to love about this southern vegetable.
First, try frying whole pods of okra. There's no better way for a reluctant okra novice to learn to love this veggie. Frying preserves the okra's crunchy texture, results in negligible sliminess, and well...it's fried! You can't go wrong with fried food.
You can also roast the okra or pickle it. Both methods will ensure crunchy veggies and let you get a feel for okra's true flavor. Try these recipes:
• Grilled Okra with Smoked Paprika-Shallot Dip from Fine Cooking
• Alton Brown's Pickled Okra from The Food Network
But personally, I think that it's best to embrace okra's slimy nature. It's definitely not a texture often found in Western cuisine and that can at first seem very very strange to our palates. Try it few times and in a few different preparations before judging it too harshly.
• Seafood Gumbo from Saveur - The classic southern stew, thickened with okra
• Sambal Okra from Rasa Malaysia - A spicy Malaysian stir-fry with shrimp
• Bhindi Masala from Spicy Tasty - Classic Indian okra curry.
Okra will be in season in most parts of the country from now through early fall. Grocery stores usually carry it, but the best okra is going to be found at the farmers market. Look for finger-length pods that are bright green colored and very firm to the touch. Keep them in the fridge and plan to eat them within the next few days.
Do you love okra? What's your favorite way to cook it?
Related: 12 Foods You Should Try at Least Once
(Image: Flickr member .j.e.n.n.y. licensed under Creative Commons)