What the Heck Is Chinese Okra?

Angled luffa, Vietnamese gourd, silk squash–Chinese okra goes by many names, but what is it?

Description: Also known as angled luffa, Vietnamese gourd, and silk squash, Chinese okra is a long, ridged, dark green vegetable grown on tropical and subtropical vines. Chinese okra has little to do with the finger-length okra known in the US, so don’t expect your relatives down in the Carolinas to have heard of it. 

Cuisine Connection: Popular in China and Vietnam, it’s a common ingredient in soups and stir-fried dishes, or as a snack dipped in a chickpea batter and deep-fried.  

Flavor Profile: The taste and texture resembles zucchini, though Chinese okra is better at sopping up liquid. The interior is almost foamy; whether it’s steamed or simmered, you’ll notice how much liquid is held in the interior flesh.

Selecting a Good One: Avoid Chinese okra with rough, hard skin. Instead, select firm, unblemished okra that is approximately 10 inches long with a soft skin that yields slightly when squeezed. 

It Ain’t Just for Eating: True to one of its names (angled luffa), if the squash is brought to maturity and dried, it can be used as a sponge—or, as it’s better known in the world of beauty, a loofah.   



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