It may be one of our region’s most iconic vegetables, but okra is a polarizing piece of produce. In fact, it’s a dirty secret of many Southerners that they don’t care for it at all. The reason? It was likely poorly cooked and thus, slimy. While okra slime does have it’s purpose, especially when thickening gumbo, it can be avoided easily. Just follow these pro-tips from our test kitchen.
Choose small, fresh pods
The smaller the pod, the less slime and seeds. Our friend Chef Tim Hontzas at Johnny’s Restaurant in Homewood, Alabama believes in this principle so much that he he has his farmer hand grade each piece to be smaller than a pinky finger before he fries them.
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Use high heat
Make sure your cast iron skillet, grill, or fryer are hot before you start cooking okra. Getting a good sear on the outside will not only make the outside taste great, it will also reduce the slime inside.
Really dry them
Once you wash your okra pods, make sure they are completely dry. Wet pods will start to steam, which produces more slime.
Cook in small batches
A crowded skillet will bring the heat down, which will create a slime-conducive environment. If you’re roasting them on a baking sheet, try using two sheets so they have plenty of room in between.
Lemon juice, chopped tomatoes, vinegar, or a splash of wine will not only add depth to your recipe, but it will also lower your slime quotient.