…The best okra, like almost all vegetables, is young and fresh right out of the garden. Okra gets very woody when it gets too mature, so it is best to pick often, and refrigerate for a few days until it is required.
Okra may be steamed until tender, either whole or sliced about 1 cm thick. Okra can also be boiled with tomatoes, fried in a cornmeal batter, or simply stir-fried. Okra can also be the thickening agent in gumbo; when cooked, it has the same mucilaginous properties as nopales (the pads of the prickly pear cactus). It can also be pickled. In the southern United States it is occasionally breaded and fried or served au gratin. From Wikipedia.
There are almost as many recipes for “gumbo” as there are fish, crustacean, fowl or meats as the main ingredient. A recipe from the Big Easy follows:
Based upon a number of gumbos served in New Orleans
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Yield: 6 servings
4 small blue crabs, cooked
1/8 cup clarified butter
6 ounces onion, finely sliced
1 ounce celery, finely sliced
1 green pepper, finely chopped
3 medium tomatoes, blanched, skinned, seeds removed, cut into quarters
2 cloves garlic, smashed
4 cups fish stock
1 teaspoon tomato paste
2 bay leaves
1 pound oysters
8 ounces tiny shrimp, cooked
1 (12-ounce) can okra, okra pieces halved
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon file powder
1/8 cup cold water
Remove legs from crab and smash with back of knife. Remove claws and break in 3 pieces. Remove meat from body and head.
Heat 1/8 cup clarified butter in large saucepan on high heat. Add crab parts and meat, then add onion, celery and green pepper. Stir in tomatoes and garlic. Mix fish stock with tomato paste and add to crab saute. Bring to boil and add bay leaves. Simmer gently, stirring and skimming top frequently, for 8 minutes. Stir in oysters and their juices, then add shrimp and okra. Season with pepper.
In small bowl, blend file and cold water. Add to soup and stir briskly. On medium-low heat, cook soup for 1 hour; do not let soup boil. Serve piping hot. From TheFoodNetwork.