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Okra - minimizing the slime

I prepared a dish tonight that I found on another okra recipe thread here. It was just a quick sear of okra in a hot pan, then corn kernels, mix together s&p. The recipe advertised the cooking method as reducing slime.

The taste was good, but the slime was everpresent. It turned me off a bit, but my kids absolutely revolted and they like veggies.

Is there any okra prep method that ACTUALLY minimizes the slime factor?

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  1. Sliced in rounds, breaded, and deep fried. Bad for you, but not slimy, and actually very tasty

    1. I was not a fan of okra until I tried them roasted. Rinse and let pods dry. Then cut them into uniform pieces (I like the 1.5 inch length); drizzle or toss with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Roast in a shallow pan at 425 degrees for 15 minutes or until done.

      2 Replies
      1. re: honu2

        Roasting is the only way I prepare okra. I usually just slice the pods in half lengthwise.
        My only word of caution is to watch the okra closely. It seems like it goes from done to burnt in a matter of a minute, much quicker than other veggies that I roast.

        1. re: honu2

          Yep. If you're not frying, then roasting is the way to go. I just use small whole pods and roast them the same way I would any other veg.

        2. Wash and dry the okra before cutting it. You have to sear/cook it until the slime dries up. The slime is present while the okra still has moisture in it. I make okra often, but in Indian preparations - no slime because the okra is either pan fried or cooked until soft so the slime goes away.

          1 Reply
          1. re: boogiebaby

            Really DRY it. As stated just below.
            No slime!

          2. In order to minimize or avoid slime with okra, you must keep it from contact with water. You wash it, of course, but then it must be thoroughly dried. The dried pods can be sliced and cooked in oil with no liquid. If you want to try a preparation with liquid, such as tomato sauce, leave the okra whole. Just pare off the thinnest slice of the green cap, so that no liquid can get inside the pod.

            1. I was told to sauté it for about a half hour, with a good dash of vinegar. It works fine for me. Never any slime.

              1. A couple of years ago, Martha Rose Shulman wrote an article that suggested reducing slime by tossing with salt and vinegar and letting sit for an hour http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/12/hea...

                1. I find that using only the smallest pods helps minimize the slime. I just spent several minutes parked in front of the okra bin at a farmer's market, picking through the whole thing to find less than a pound of teeny ones.

                  1. Wow, so many ideas, and no consensus :)

                    I did a really quick sear in a hot hot pan with a bit of oil, but no other liquid. The okra were various sizes, but mostly thin, and cut in half lengthwise. I'm afraid that if I cooked it so long that there was no moisture inside, it would be charred.

                    I don't understand why it makes any difference whether the outside is wet and thoroughly dried or not, as the slime was all on the inside, in the seed pockets.

                    Maybe cut into small rounds and roasted is the way to go, because it exposes a lot of surface area to the heat and could dry it out uniformly.

                    I have to admit the whole vinegar and salt thing sounds like old wives tales to me.

                    I've had fried, and it's good, but fried veggies tend to lose the purity of their flavor. It might as well be a green bean or a broccoli floret... That plus the health factor.

                    I love Indian prepared okra, and haven't noticed slimy-ness. That may be the way to go, but I'll try roasting for sure.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: sasha1

                      The slime is made worse by moisture. The slime occurs when the okra inside gets wet or releases moisture. If the okra is wet on the outside when you cook it, the moisture if transferred to the inside via the knife. You can test it by cutting a completely dry okra, and then cutting one that's wet on the outside. The wet one will get sticky and leave a trail of slime on the knife.

                      I make okra every couple of weeks -- its a favorite in my house, but again, I make it indian style, and almost all indian preparations call for it to be roasted whole over low heat, or sliced and sautéed. I usually wash it and then let it sit out for a couple hours to dry off, or I roll it in paper towels before cutting.

                    2. Another tip is to use a very sharp knife if you're going to slice them, it eliminates the slime production, before roasting.

                      1. At a food festival I was sharing a stage with a chef from Jordan. As we were prepping our ingredients and chatting I noticed her technique with okra was interesting. Picture the okra pod being held vertical. She trimmed just the outer ridge of the stem cap horizontally. She said this reduced sliminess. She also was of the very dry camp. Her dish had no sliminess iirc.

                        I've never gotten around to trying this myself since I don't have issues with the slim in the few dishes I use okra in.

                        1. GilaB is the only one to mention fresh okra, must wonder how many use frozen, and have no access to fresh. I use fresh to make okra, corn, and tomatoes plus fried and never have a slime problem. Anyone interested in my dishes and I'll post.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: James Cristinian

                            We add bacon and Tabasco to the mix!

                            1. re: chefj

                              Ok chefj, my virtually world famous almost fat free dish. Sautee in olive oil in this order, bell peppers, onion, jalapeno pepper, green onion, garlic, and fresh tomato. Add good tomato sauce, good fresh sliced fresh okra, I sound like Ina, and fresh, good sliced off the cob fresh corn. Simmer until okra is tender. Be sure and season with salt and pepper as needed, I check for seasonings at different stages. Tabasco always, bacon up to you. This is our fat freeish go to, but we love our bacon. Slime, no stinking slime.

                              1. re: James Cristinian

                                Sounds good.
                                I do a quick sear of Okra in rendered Bacon Fat, Toss in Corn, Tomato and Scallions, 2 min. or so. Season with Tabasco and Salt. Not Fat free but only a couple of Tablespoons for 4 portions.
                                Yes no Slime.

                                1. re: chefj

                                  Not a fat free fanatic, but we do a huge batch so we can take for lunches at work, freezes great.

                          2. Hmm.. I have not read other posts, but I think you will have a tough time to remove all the sliminess. The cornmeal, pan fried method really help, but is not meant to remove all sliminess. The sliminess is what makes okra unique.

                            The closest method to remove all the sliminess is an Indian recipe I tried, but that is to pan fried the pieces until they are crispy and brown.

                            1. Leave the pods whole, just trim the hard end. Cuts way down on slime in any preparation.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: saffrongold

                                my ex loved okra just simply steamed -- the first time was an utter failure (hilarious now, but horrid at the time) -- but after that I just trimmed the stem ends and steamed them.

                                Oh, the memories of that first attempt -- he'd requested steamed okra, and I picked out the biggest, fattest pods I could find, washed and sliced them, and put them on to steam (this was in the days before the internet....) -- oh bless my socks -- he lifted the lid to find the damnedest pot of green snot you've ever seen. The whole thing went in the garbage....after that I figured out that you don't dare cut the pods, and it is better with smaller, more tender pods....

                                I far prefer okra stewed with tomatoes, which neutralizes the slime.

                                (fried's good, too, but I don't deep fry much)

                              2. I actually think the slime is the best part.

                                9 Replies
                                  1. re: treb

                                    The whole "okra too slimy" meme baffles me.

                                    People will slurp down oysters like their jelly beans and say nary a thing about slime, but on the slime scale oysters are like a 100 and okra a 20, on a scale of 20.

                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                      I agree with you completely. While I like properly fried okra, stewed okra and tomatoes is my preference. My maternal grandmother fried the best.

                                      1. re: c oliver

                                        When I go the the You-pick farms near me I seek out the okra. I love okra so much that I eat a bunch of it raw, straight off the stem. A little slippery, but gorgeously flavorful.
                                        When I get home i slice a bunch of them up, then dice a bunch of tomatoes and put them in a saucepan. When it gets hot I put in some chiffonaded basil from the garden, plus salt and a lot of pepper, then throw in the okra. Heat until hot, and enjoy God's bounty. I really feel that way about okra and tomatoes as a heavenly dish.

                                        1. re: EWSflash

                                          What a great word picture you painted.

                                      2. re: ipsedixit

                                        I agree about the slime obsession as ridiculous, but as one that eats everything with chopsticks, it helps to reduce the slime somewhat.

                                      1. re: Veggo

                                        Nicest thing you've ever said to me, V.

                                      2. re: ipsedixit

                                        I'll second that. I like my okra anyway but rotten, Don't enjoy picking (actually cutting) it though.

                                      3. Wash the okra before cutting, lightly dry them. Then cut off the stalk end and tips only if small tender ones. The smaller the pieces, more the slime basically. A dry sauté with hardly any oil is often done before using it in stews or curries. Would that work in your dish? Never cut the okra and wash.....the minute water touches the chopped bits, slime generates.

                                        1. This is how the Alabamian Mr. Tardigrade prepares okra: Put a mess (I'm told that's the technical term) of cornmeal into a bag; add some salt or pepper if you feel like it. Quickly cut the okra into 1/4" slices and put the slices in the bag with the cornmeal. Shake until everything looks well-coated. Shake off the excess cornmeal, then fry in a cast-iron skillet with the fat of your choice until brown and crispy. Salt and eat.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: tardigrade

                                            This is it... how I learned from my mom to fry okra. Her secret is to "tend" each piece not to turn or stir them en masse.

                                            1. re: tardigrade

                                              Yes, this is the right way. I grew up in Arkansas and as a child it was the only cooked vegetable that passed my lips. Now I slice it and toss it with cornmeal, salt and pepper (I use a bowl rather than a bag) and sauté in a couple tablespoons of olive oil. I put a lid on it for about the first ten minutes, stirring often to prevent scorching, then I take the lid off and cook for another 15 minutes or so to crisp it up. My husband grew up in California and never heard of okra until he met me, but he eats it just fine this way. No slime at all.
                                              And you're right -- it was called "a mess a'okry."

                                              1. re: tardigrade

                                                This is obviously the best ever way to cook okra. With a lot of bacon fat in whatever fat you choose to fry in.

                                              2. My 1953 Modern Encyclopedia of Cooking suggests washing, drying, then slicing directly into a skillet already heated with butter or bacon drippings (in 1953 they were not so worried about animal fats, lol). No slicing on a cutting board and then transferring to the skillet. Seems a little tricky, but that's what the author (Meta Given) suggests to avoid sliminess.

                                                  1. Use tiny okra and just trim the cap on the pods, don't cut into the pod itself. Cutting into the seed pod causes a chemical reaction that makes it slimy (as cutting onions adds air to sulfer componds increasing fumes that irritate).

                                                    My Aunt Faith's version of steamed okra, from Florence SC.

                                                    Fix a big pot of freshly shelled butter beans (smaller the better, speckled or green doesn't matter). Cook just till almost tender, ham hock if you've got it. Cooking with just butter is fine and keeps vegetarians happy. I use 1 c water for every 3 c of bbeans. Add salt and a right good amount of black pepper.
                                                    When barely done (use a pot that's wider than tall) place a layer of tiny, cap-trimmed okra across the top of the bbeans and let them steam till tender. My Aunt would cook the bbeans, add the okra and wrap the pot in a big beach towel set on the back seat of the car on the way to a church dinner or family reunion. Okra steamed as she drove. People would elbow wrestle to get that okra with their butterbeans and there was never any leftovers. I miss her so. She was one of the finest home cooks in the family.

                                                    Okra is the most seasonal vegetable and just isn't good for anything beyond gumbo and soups when frozen. It won't last much more than 24 hours when fresh so don't bother trying to hold it. Some days dinner is fried okra (whole tiny pods) cornbread, shelled peas or beans over rice and sliced garden tomatoes. Exactly what we had 45-50 years ago. We were vegetarian locavores and didn't know it (smile).

                                                    5 Replies
                                                    1. re: kariin

                                                      I will not use frozen okra, but must disagree on the fresh. Since I no longer have a garden I rely on the local SE Texas farmers outlet where most of the okra is from the Rio Grande Valley or Mexico. I'm sure it's not FedExed in so it must be many days old and always cooks up fine, whether fried or in my signature okra, corn, and tomatoes. It doesn't look like fresh picked, but cooks up fine, trust me.

                                                      1. re: James Cristinian

                                                        Mmm, okra, corn and tomatoes. Hard to beat.

                                                      2. re: kariin

                                                        that sounds like a damned fine summer supper.

                                                        Y'all thought that was po'folks food...never guessed you were just hipper than everybody else by 50 years!

                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                          Pretty easy to be a vegetarian at this time of year, isn't it?

                                                      3. Roasted is the way to go. I've been living almost daily on eggplant, okra, tomato, onion, and garlic all roasted together. Heavenly! :) No sliminess.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: alpidarkomama

                                                          Do you cut the okra or leave it whole?

                                                        2. I made this dish last night for my 94 y/o okra loving mom. She loved it.


                                                          I did make some slight changes to the recipe as presented. She only has cornmeal mix so I used that and cut back on the flour a bit and upped the cornmeal mix. I also used about 1/3rd of the amount of water (which is 1/2 cup) and the rest of the liquid amount was lowfat buttermilk. Further changes I will make the next time will be to grate the onion instead of chop it and I might add some fresh corn kernels if I have some on hand. This was really quite tasty and Mom-approved.

                                                          1. I did not read ALL the replies, but in Greek Cuisine it is common to trim and wash okra and then soak in acidulated water. i use lemon juice, but red wine vinegar works well.

                                                            Add trimmed and cut okra to bowl, add plenty of lemon juice or red wine vinegar and just enough water to cover and stir/mix. Some omit the water and they swear by it. Either way, drain and rinse before proceeding with your favorite recipe.

                                                            1. I think the best "gateway" method to prepare okra is to grill it, which probably produces similar results to roasting. Leave the pods whole (I use pods up to 4" long, smaller is better), toss with a little oil or butter to coat, then season generously with salt, pepper, paprika, ground coriander, and a little sugar. Grill on a hot BBQ, turning a couple of times, till tender. Then just pick the up by the stem and bite off the tasty pod. So good!

                                                              4 Replies
                                                              1. re: sadiefox

                                                                As usual, CH to the rescue! I bought a mess a'okry at the greengrocer the other day because I love it so much at Japanese restos. Came to my senses and hopped on here. I'll be roasting, as our bbq/grilling days are over till the new deck is finished. Thanks, all.

                                                                1. re: grayelf

                                                                  If they are super fresh, you can eat them raw with some sort of creamy dip. I had these at a party the other day and couldn't get enough of them. If course, they were picked out of the hosts garden just an hour or so earlier...

                                                                  1. re: Leepa

                                                                    I can totally see that, especially if they were tiny and tender. Kinda drooling over the idea, in fact. I wonder if we could grow okra here in Vancouver? We are planning our first veggie garden for next spring!

                                                                    1. re: grayelf

                                                                      Pods that are 3" or less are best for this. Give it a try.

                                                                1. You can also season and dehydrate to make Okra Chips. They are good and no Slime at all.