How to cook okra: go small, don’t get them wet, and fry with tomatoes and spices

The visceral response some people have to the merest mention of okra speaks to the way its unique textural properties stick in one’s memory – stick being the operative word.

Okra’s characteristic gloop is the product of the vegetable’s naturally occurring mucilage, which is activated by exposing its innards through slicing and through extended cooking (like in a stew). Mind you, its propensity to simmer into slime over time is part of the appeal in certain dishes like gumbo from America’s south and west African okra stew, where it acts as a thickener for the sauce.

Think of okra like a mogwai in the Gremlins films: if you want it to stay cute, don’t get it wet

But if you prefer to mitigate the mucilage, it’s easier than you think. Choose smaller okra and trim only the top of the stem so the pods remain whole. This means the mucilage, which is contained within the body, doesn’t get a chance to go gooey.

And think of okra like a mogwai in the Gremlins films: if you want…

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This article was written by Alice Zaslavsky and originally published on