What the Heck Is Chinese Okra? A Guide to the Vegetable

Angled luffa, Vietnamese gourd, silk squash – Chinese okra goes by many names, but what is it? Here’s what to know.

Never heard of Chinese okra before? Never fear! Westchester breaks down everything you need to know about the unique vegetable, including what it tastes like and how to cook with it.

chinese okra
The vegetable’s full profile
Chinese okra

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.

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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.

Related: What Is Korean Squash? A Guide to the Unique Vegetable

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