Last updated on March 18th, 2021 at 02:00 am
I’d never tried fried okra unti I moved to the South–or hush puppies, yeast rolls, grits, fried green tomatoes, and I’m sure a few more things I’m forgetting. And, of course sweet tea isn’t popular in the North like it is here in the South. There are also foods I grew up with that are almost impossible to find living in North Carolina. It still surprises me that as much as people move around the country, we still have such regional tastes.
Today, I have a tasty recipe for classic Southern fried okra. Okra is savory and crunchy, with a flavor all its own. It’s in season from about June to November, but that varies depending on which part of the country you’re in. When fried, okra pairs wonderfully with tomatoes, and just about anything else you can dream up. You can serve it as an appetizer or a side dish. It’s easy to make, and you can have it done and warming in the oven while you prepare other dishes, or pile it high on a platter, serve it as an appetizer, and watch it disappear. You’re going to love this one!
And, just so you know, if you’ve never cooked okra before, when you cut into it, it has a “slimy” texture…there’s no elegant way to say it. However, when you coat it, it’s no longer an issue, and it fries up beautifully. It’s also good for you. It’s full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Do a little research, and you’ll find lots of of reasons (besides the delicious taste) to love this Southern delicacy!
To make Southern fried okra, start by washing, and then chopping the okra into pieces.
Next, toss the okra pieces in a large bowl with your cornmeal mixture.
Make sure the okra is well-coated. Place the okra on a parchment-lined cookie sheet in a single layer, and freeze for about an hour before frying.
Southern Fried Okra Recipe
- 2-3 lbs fresh okra
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup flour
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 1 Tbsp baking powder
- cooking oil
Wash the okra in cool water in a colander, and trim off both ends.
Cut the okra in half-inch to one-inch pieces, and place in a large bowl.
Sprinkle with the salt, and toss until coated.
In another bowl, mix the flour, cornmeal, and baking powder until blended.
Sprinkle the okra with the flour/cornmeal mixture and toss until well-coated. (Okra should be completely coated. If it isn't, add a little more flour and cornmeal).
Place the okra on a parchment-lined cookie sheet in a single layer. Place the cookie sheet in the freezer for about one hour.
Okra is fried in batches, and not all at once. Follow these steps, and you'll have delicious fried okra.
In a large fryer or large roaster, fill the fryer to the suggested line, or fill the roaster about half-way full with cooking oil. Heat oil until hot.
Remove the okra from the freezer, and place one piece of okra on a frying tool or on a large slotted spoon, and lower it into the hot oil. When the okra floats and sizzles in the hot oil, the oil is ready.
Lower the okra into the hot oil with a frying tool or a large slotted spoon, a few pieces at a time, until you have the fryer or roaster not quite full--you want the okra to have enough room to fry without being crowded in the fryer. Don't overload your fryer, or roaster.
You'll have to adjust the heat when frying. You may want to turn the heat down just a little when the okra is almost done and as you're removing it. Then, put one piece in the oil again, and turn your heat up, and when the piece of okra floats, add more okra to fry, until you've fried all the okra. Fry the okra until it's golden brown.
Cool and drain on paper towels, and serve.
A frying tool, or large slotted spoon, is a tool or spoon with a long handle to keep you from getting your hands or fingers too close to the hot oil. DO NOT use a regular spoon, as the handle is not long enough, and oil may splatter and burn you as you're placing the okra into the oil. If you have not fried okra before, or are not experienced working with hot oil, use a pot holder to avoid burns.
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