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Chinese okra is similar to common okra in color and shape. It is elongated with strongly ridged green skin and tapered ends. Its ideal harvested length is between six to eight inches when it is still young and its flesh is at its peak tenderness. Chinese okra has a spongy, pulpy, slightly fibrous creamy white flesh. Its considered a squash in some cultures as its flavor is akin to zucchini. The more mature Chinese okra is the more bitter and fibrous the flesh becomes, making it unfavorable for culinary use.
Look for Chinese okra beginning in early fall.
Chinese okra is formally known as luffa. It is a subtropical vine and member of the family Cucurbitaceae along with gourds, melons and cucumbers. There are two varieties of luffa cultivated for culinary use; the fruit is harvested prior to maturity. The mature luffa is dried and processed for non-culinary purposes, specifically for use as a loofah.
Chinese okra is a versatile vegetable suitable to a wide range of cooking methods. It may be sliced and stir fried, stuffed and baked, battered and deep fried, or pureed and turned into a chutney. Store in the refrigerator for up to one week.
As its name implies, Chinese okra is native to Asia, though specific origin is unknown as it was propagated from wild okra, which was first cultivated from its wild state in Egypt. Chinese okra is grown in tropical and subtropical Asia and Africa.
Recipes that include Chinese Okra. One is easiest, three is harder.
People have spotted Chinese Okra using the Specialty Produce app for iPhone and Android.
Produce Spotting allows you to share your produce discoveries with your neighbors and the world! Is your market carrying green dragon apples? Is a chef doing things with shaved fennel that are out of this world? Pinpoint your location annonymously through the Specialty Produce App and let others know about unique flavors that are around them.