Okra adds texture, flavor and beauty to your gumbo

A traditional food plant in Africa, okra came to south Louisiana through south African people. It is high in protein, fiber and minerals. In parts of the eastern Mediterranean, it is widely used in a thick stew made with vegetables and meat.

It did not take long for south Louisiana cooks to discover the potential of this fibrous fruit to enrich the flavors of gumbo. It adds a beauty and texture that is quite different from a roux. One can add it to any variety no matter if it's seafood gumbo, chicken gumbo or vegetable gumbo.

Whether it's fresh, frozen or simmered down in tomatoes and onions, it will make a wonderful addition that is filling, beautiful and nutritious. The vegetable was originally used as a primary ingredient to supplement seafood or meat.

Soon it was discovered that it's thickening properties made gumbo richer and provided a deeper flavor as well as adding color.

For a long period in history it was the only thickener used. Many Louisiana cooks insist that it makes the best possible. Still others say this edible green fruit used in combination with a roux will achieve the pinnacle of Louisiana gumbo cookery.

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