The Magic of Mucilage


This post is about okra, a vegetable which is also known by the more romantic name of lady’s fingers, which would be apt if women’s digits were green, hairy and slightly hooked, like witches’ fingers.

Okra are a mucilaginous food which is a natural laxative and is beneficial for the digestive system. (Other mucilaginous foods are flaxseed and chia seed). For more information on why it’s good for you, see here and here.

Okra is in season now and I’ve been seeing beautiful specimens going cheap at my local greengrocer. I have also seen it in asian grocers. Choose ones which are unblemished (dark black patches indicate the withering of age) and firm. If you don’t have any prior experience with okra, don’t do what I did the first time and cook it in a pot of boiling water, unless you want to end up with a pool of inedible slime.

I prefer hot dry cooking for okra and you can eat the okra by itself as a side dish or on top of curries.

Pan-fried Okra

Trim tops off okra and slice into 2 or 3 pieces lengthwise. Pan fry in ghee (or other preferred cooking fat), turning several times, until softened and nicely charred. It takes just a few minutes to cook. Sprinkle a little salt.

okra montage

Gai Lan, Okra and Enoki Stir Fry


  • 1 tablespoon cooking fat of your choice: lard, schmaltz, coconut oil

  • 1 clove garlic, smashed
  • 1 bunch gai larn (chinese kale), washed and cut into 3 inch lengths
  • 200g enoki mushrooms, washed & ends trimmed
  • 3-4 large okra, sliced
  • dry sherry or Shao Xing cooking wine
  • 2 tablespoons gluten-free soy sauce
  • ¾ tsp sesame oil
  • salt, to taste


  1. Heat fat in a wok or large frying pan. When the oil is hot, add the garlic and cook until oil is smoking (take care not to burn the garlic).
  2. Add the gai larn, okra, salt and sherry and cook over high heat, stirring frequently, until the gai larn is nearly done.
  3. Add enoki, soy sauce and sesame oil and cook until gai larn is tender.