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Chinese Okra

Despite the name, Chinese okra is unrelated to the plant known as okra in the US. You might confuse the two if you saw pictures of them out of the corner of your eye, but Chinese okra is a dull green gourd with white flesh that’s denser than the more peppery consistency of its American counterpart. As its name suggests, it’s used in Chinese cooking and in certain dishes in India and Southeast Asia.

The taste and texture of Chinese okra is similar to zucchini, but with ridges that run lengthwise. When cooked, the flavor becomes slightly sweet.

Generally, it’s harvested while still relatively young, since the fruit becomes more fibrous and less tender as it matures past a certain point. (Extra-mature plants are so fibrous and hard that they’re traditionally used as sponges!)

Once harvested, Chinese okra is often braised, simmered, or sautéed; it’s popular in curries, and even sometimes battered and deep-fried. It’s also sometimes pickled and, when the fruit is especially young, can be eaten raw.

Like many vegetables and fruits, Chinese okra is high in vitamins like A and C, certain minerals like calcium, and, of course, has lots of fiber.

While it can be available year-round, Chinese okra is most plentiful during the summer. During this time especially, you’ll find it at Uwajimaya in our produce section!