July 24, 2006
Now I know that a big, hot plate of fried okra may seem like an odd dinner when it is well over a thousand degrees outside (after all, shouldn't we be eating a popsicle followed by an ice-cold beer? Or just skip the popsicle all together?) but something deep down inside me was saying "Give me okra or give me death!" and one cannot deny their most base and animal instincts. Especially not where food is concerned, because it could be the harbinger of a giant okra shortage, or perhaps my body is crying out for the nutrients found only in the combination of fried cornmeal and hot oil. We may never know. The body is a mysterious thing.
So yesterday I drove to the store and scouted around for okra, and although the selection was limited to some slightly not-fresh overpriced pods, I snapped them up and took them home and ate a late dinner of nothing but fried okra, because I am fully committed to becoming a giant clogged artery disguised as a functional adult. I had a cold beer to go along with it too, it is summer after all.
Southern Fried Okra Recipe
You will need:
A fair amount of okra
Milk or cream
flour (any kind, even rice flour or corn flour works)
cornmeal (yellow or white, I use yellow)
big heavy-bottomed frying pan
Select okra that is small and fresh, if you get the giant pods they'll be tough and not as tasty.
Before you do anything else, mix up your breading. I use about one part flour to two parts cornmeal. Maybe a little less flour. Season it with salt, pepper, Tony Chachere or any other all-seasing stuff you have on hand (season salt is fine in place of regular salt). I also add a little dash of cayenne pepper because YA'LL I AM CRAZY AND IT IS EFFING HOT OUTSIDE. May want to crank up the air conditioning.
Wash your okra, and slice each piece into little rounds, less than half an inch thick or so. Put the sliced okra in a bowl. Don't do anything else until you get your pan ready.
Put your oil in the frying pan and start warming it up. I use enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan about a quarter of an inch. This is probably not diet food. But! Crucial nutrients for ass-building are involved in the chemistry of deep-frying.
Now, while the pan is heating up, go back to your bowl of cut-up raw okra. Start adding a tee tiny bit of milk to the okra, and stirring it to coat it. It will instantly perform some kind of food-science thing that makes the okra get sticky. When all the okra is coated very lightly with milk, sprinkle in your breading mixture, and stir to coat all the pieces. Some of it will stick together in clumps, that's fine. I use a lot of the cornmeal breading.
Your oil should be hot enough for deep-frying -- test with one piece of okra. If the oil sizzles around it in little bubbles, you're ready. If the oil swarms around in a GIANT HUGE FRENZY to scorch the okra, your fire is too hot.
Add the okra to your pan in a shallow layer. Resist the urge to turn it immediately. Wait some more. After a bit, check on one or two pieces with a fork to see if it's golden-brown yet. If not, let a little while pass, and resist the urge to turn it again. You turn it over too quickly and you'll lose the breading. Once the okra is golden on one side, begin turning it over with a big spatula. Fry the other side up really good and drain the whole mess on a pile of paper towels.
Eat and enjoy!
Posted by laurie at July 24, 2006 9:42 AM