A Nigerian spice with a tart, lemony taste. Also known as bamia or ladies' fingers, this vegetable is grown in the Northern Territory by several farmers, including Vietnamese-Australian Vu Van Nguyen. A member of the cotton family, okra plants are easy to grow, appearing as pods inside beautiful pale yellow flowers with crimson centres. In fact, they are very decorative as plants. The young pods are sought after for Greek and Middle Eastern cuisines, while South East Asians prefer them larger and longer. Eaten raw, hibiscus esulentus contains large amounts of calcium, phosphorus, vitamin A and iron. It is also a good source of soluble and insoluble fibre and vitamin B6 and folic acid, when cooked. Vu Van Nguyen grows an acre of okra on his farm on the outskirts of Darwin, where it thrives. Vietnam-born, he prefers to slice mature okra into soups or stir-fries, eating it barely cooked and still crisp. Mediterranean tastes prefer younger, crisper pods and tend to cook it well (classically with tomato and onions and finished with a little lemon juice) to capitalise on the thickening effect the vegetable has on stews and casseroles.