How to Prepare Okra

Three Parts:Obtaining and selecting okraBasic preparation of okraFrying okra

When people think of okra (also known as "ladies' fingers"), they often think of a slimy, difficult-to-eat vegetable and so tend to avoid it. While okra is somewhat slimy in texture, those that know how to properly prepare okra think of it as a vegetable that is to be celebrated and enjoyed.

Many chefs choose not to explore the complexity of okra simply from a bad experience, or maybe by tainted word of mouth. When you learn how to prepare okra, however, your conception of the wonderful vegetable changes completely. In this article, you will learn how to prepare okra.


  • Okra
  • Egg
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Cornmeal

Part 1
Obtaining and selecting okra

  1. Image titled Prepare Okra Step 1 preview
    Obtain the okra. You can buy okra from many fruit and vegetable suppliers. Make sure that the okra is fresh.
    • While it may be difficult to harvest your own okra , it is possible and proves inexpensive.
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    Choose okra that is evenly green and about 2 to 4 inches (5-10 cm) long. Too large and the okra will have a flat taste, and may be too tough to eat. Too small, and the okra will be difficult to cook.
    • Avoid okra that look shriveled or are soft when squeezed.
    • The okra should snap rather than bend.

Part 2
Basic preparation of okra

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    Trim the stem end. Do this without cutting the pod itself. The conical stem attached to the pod can be carefully trimmed around to remove if desired. Remove the thin layer with your fingers. Doing this ensures that the whole vegetable is edible but it is time-consuming to do.
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    Defuzz okra. The fuzziness on okra doesn't have to be removed before cooking on young okra. To remove it from older okra:
    • Defuzz under running water. Rub the pod gently using a fine nylon scourer, paper towel, or a vegetable brush.[1]
    • Pat the okra dry inside a dishcloth or spread it out to air dry.
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    Prevent okra from becoming slimy during cooking. This can be done by giving the okra a vinegar treatment, although you will need to do this well in advance.[2]
    • Pour half a cup of vinegar into a bowl for every 500 g (1 lb) of okra.
    • Gently swish the vinegar over the okra to coat all okra in the bowl.
    • Leave for 30 minutes to soak in the vinegar.
    • Remove the okra and rinse well. Dry and use as suggested by the recipe.
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    Know how to prepare the okra for different dishes. There are different ways to prepare okra depending on how it is being cooked:
    • Slice into even-sized pieces for Cajun and Creole stews (e.g., gumbo) that are thickened using okra after topping and tailing it.
    • Cut into slices or leave whole for frying (see below).
    • Leave whole (but cleaned and prepared) for stews and casseroles where the recipe requires this. If the okra is cooked whole, it is not able to release its gelatinous substance.[3]
    • If using as a thickener, blanch the whole okra first. Slice the okra and add to the dish 10 minutes before cooking time finishes.[4]
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    Use garlic and spices with okra. Okra goes well with eggplant, onions, peppers, and tomatoes.[5]

Part 3
Frying okra

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    Cut off the stems. These are tough, with little flavor; see the instructions above.
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    Slice the okra in 1/4 inch (6.35mm) slices. If you cut them too thick, they will take longer to cook.
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    Beat an egg and soak the okra in this for about 5 to 10 minutes.
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    While that's soaking, put about a cup of cornmeal in a dish with salt and pepper. Don't use flour, as this will cake up and the okra will end up mushy.
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    After soaking for a while, dredge the slices in the cornmeal, covering evenly.
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    Heat about a 1/2 a cup of oil in a skillet on medium to high heat.
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    When the oil is hot, carefully place the okra into the pan.
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    Stir continuously, making sure it doesn't burn. When the okra is golden, take it out and let drain on paper towels. Enjoy.
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  • Okra can be used in soups.
  • Before attempting other okra recipes, try the frying recipe outlined in this article. This method of cooking okra is a great way to get used to the taste and texture of okra, and is often the best way to prepare it.
  • The caps can be woody if the okra was not harvested promptly. When eating whole okra by itself, you can use the cap as a handle, bite up to the cap, and then discard the cap.
  • Okra is used in a number of cuisines, such as Creole, Cajun, Indian, Caribbean, Southeast Asian, and Middle Eastern cuisines.[6]


  • Be careful when putting the okra in the hot oil. It can splash up and burn you.
  • Handle okra gently.

Things You'll Need

  • Skillet or frying pan
  • Chopping board and knife
  • Paper towels
  • Tongs or slotted spoon

Sources and Citations

  1. Tess Mallos, Middle East Cookbook, p. 9, (2006), ISBN 1-7411-0231-6
  2. Tess Mallos, Middle East Cookbook, p. 9, (2006), ISBN 1-7411-0231-6
  3. John Newton. Food, the Essential A-Z Guide, p. 270, (2001), ISBN 1-74045-031-0

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