Latin name: Luffa acutangula

Chinese okra is a member of the cucurbit family, the most famous member of which is the cucumber. So named due to a resemblence to the unrelated plant Hibiscus esculenta, or just okra, the key ingredient in okra gumbo (not to be confused with filé gumbo).

The owner of Ming's, the Chinese grocery store in Peterborough (Ontario) told me to slice the Chinese okra into 3-cm pieces and then skin them before adding to a stir-fry. Unfortunately, due to the starfruit-like cross-section, skinning would either remove most of the okra or take a really long time. Because these plants were mature, the skin was significantly harder than a cucumber and did not soften much during cooking -- the texture might bother you.

I also tried substituting Chinese okra for just okra in chicken gumbo. Not ever having had proper gumbo, I'm not sure whether it turned out faithful but the Chinese okra certainly made the soup/stew more interesting.

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