Some people would say that taking the time to grow a fresh crop of vegetables yourself and then deep frying the fruits of your labor would be a contradiction. Especially when there are so many different ways to use fresh vegetables that are delicious and incredibly healthy as well. Normally, we’d agree. We don’t really like to fry.
Unless the vegetable in particular is okra. Fresh okra is so crisp and tasty when fried whereas its frozen or even store-bought counterpart fail to deliver. In fact, the only acceptable time to fry okra is fresh from the plant.
A few pointers for success: Only pick okra that is under 5″ long. Any bigger and the texture gets somewhat woody and hard. Don’t cut the okra into anything bigger than 1/2″ round, I prefer 1/4″. If the okra is not as fresh as possible it can be soaked in ice water for 15 minutes instead of parboiling to improve the crispness, but this only does so much. The batter should be the consistency of pancake batter, slightly runny but still sticking to the okra. Use a fork to lift a few out at a time and drain off the excess batter. I like yellow cornmeal, but many southerns swear by white. Just make sure that whatever color you choose it is finely ground and not self rising. When frying, do not overcrowd your pan and instead fry in multiple small batches. I like to use a dutch oven when frying food, but a deep-sided cast iron pan or stock pot will work for okra since there only needs to be two inches of oil at a time. Serve immediately and do not reheat fried okra or it will not taste very good.
- 15-20 fresh okra stems removed and sliced into 1/4″ rounds
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1 cup yellow cornmeal
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
- 1 cup buttermilk plus extra
- 1 egg
- Hot pepper sauce to taste
In a large bowl, crack egg and beat till smooth. Mix cornmeal, salt, pepper, buttermilk and hot sauce into beaten egg and stir until batter forms. Bring a stock pot of salted water to boil and parboil okra for one minute. Strain, rinse under cold water and dry immediately. Place flour in a bowl and quickly dredge okra in it. Shake off excess and drop okra into batter. If the batter gets too thick thin with more buttermilk until it resembles pancake mix. Bring 2″ Crisco, lard or vegetable oil to a boil in a dutch oven. In small batches strain off extra batter and fry okra. Set on a paper towel to cool slightly and dust with salt. Serve hot plain or dipped in fresh aioli.