Fried okra is a real southern treat. It is also one of my few times a year indulgences. I rarely fry food and usually do more grilling, roasting, or slow-simmering. But every now and then I break down and do some frying. One of those occasions is when okra is in season. As soon as I see it in the farmers market I have to have it. This year one of the market vendors had this beautiful organically grown okra:
It may seem odd to fry a fresh organic vegetable. I admit it is not the healthiest preparation. However it is my favorite. I have loved fried okra ever since I can remember. My mother and mother-in-law will make it for certain family gatherings. I am like a kid as soon as I see it. I go back for a second, and sometimes a third helping. I only make it a couple of times a year and each time it seems special.
There are different versions of fried okra. One is prepared with a simple coating of cornmeal and flour. The other is with a batter coating. My version is the simple cornmeal/flour one. I do not care for the batter version because it seems to over-take the flavor of the okra. I like to slice my okra on the thin side, somewhere between 1/4 to 1/2-inch:
I use a cast iron skillet for frying the okra. You can use any type of skillet. I have also used a solid stainless steel one and my mother-in-law uses a non-stick pan. It is quite simple to do – just heat up the skillet with some oil, add the coated okra, and fry until browned. Some prefer a light-brown and I like it more brown and crispier. The okra will tend to soak up the oil as it is frying so add more oil if the pan becomes too dry. Be sure to drain it on paper towels after it is finished or it will be too greasy. Season it with salt and pepper and it is done.
What fried food is your favorite indulgence? Is it seasonal or throughout the year? Mine vary depending on the season or the occasion. Summer means fried okra to me. I am sad to see the season ending soon. Next up is autumn and more tasty treats to come. Stay tuned!
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- 1 pound okra stems removed
- 4 tablespoons cornmeal
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- Vegetable or canola oil
- Salt and pepper
Slice okra into 1/4 to 1/2-inch slices. Place okra in a bowl. Add the cornmeal and flour and stir until okra is evenly coated.
In a skillet over medium heat, add the oil to cover the bottom of the skillet. Once the oil is heated, add the okra to the skillet and cook for a few minutes until lightly browned on the bottom. Use a spatula to turn okra over in the pan. Add more oil if needed (okra will tend to soak up the oil). Continue to cook and turn okra until evenly browned. Transfer okra to a bowl or platter lined with paper towels. Season with salt and pepper. Remove paper towels and serve okra warm.
Southern-style okra fried with a coating of cornmeal and flour.