luffa, angled luffa
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!