Today I’m sharing with you a recipe for another Deep South favorite, Fried Okra. Now, I know that okra is one of those vegetables that people either love or hate. There’s not much middle ground with okra, it seems. I fall firmly into the okra-loving group. Pretty much any way you prepare okra, I like it.
Now don’t run away just because you saw the word “fried.” I know that fried foods have a bad reputation. I know all about what the fats can do to your heart, etc. However, I firmly believe that an occasional indulgence in foods that give you great pleasure is good for the soul. I don’t eat fried foods every day or even every week. For one thing frying makes the whole house stink for days. I don’t like that. But it’s worth it for a plate piled high with this fried okra.
Okra is an interesting plant, originating in West Africa and thought to have been brought to America about 300 years ago. It’s in the same family as cotton and hibiscus and has beautiful blossoms. If you want to know more about okra, there’s a good article on WikiPedia.
When choosing okra, select pods that are bright green and about 3 inches or less in length. Avoid the pods that are larger. They’ll give you a “woody” end product that you won’t like.
Many people prepare the okra for frying with a batter coating. I personally think the batter is too heavy and all you taste is fried batter. I use just a light coating of finely ground white cornmeal. Very simple. The lighter coating gives the okra an opportunity to crisp up during the frying process. Much better than that gooey batter.
Wash and dry the okra pods.
Remove the top and tail from each pod and slice crosswise into approximately 1/2 inch pieces. It’s not strictly necessary to remove the tops and tails, I just like mine to have a more uniform appearance. Place the sliced okra in a large bowl and lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add the cornmeal to the bowl with the sliced okra. Using your hands, toss the okra in the cornmeal until each piece is well coated.
Pour oil to a depth of about 3/4” in a heavy cast iron frying pan. Heat the oil and test for readiness by dropping a piece of the prepared okra into the pan. If the okra immediately begins to bubble the oil is ready for cooking. Or use the trick in this post for Real Simple Fried Chicken to test the oil.
Cook the okra in two to three batches until golden brown and crisp on the outside. Do not crowd the pan.
Remove to a paper towel lined plate or a wire rack to drain. Sprinkle very lightly with additional salt if desired. Serves 2. Easily doubles, triples…whatever.
More okra recipes you might enjoy:
- Seared Okra and Tomatoes from Simply Recipes
- Small Batch Pickled Okra from Food in Jars
- Grilled Okra from Add a Pinch
- Smokra from No Recipes
- Roasted Okra from Clean and Delicious
This post originally published June 1, 2010