Fried okra

Crispy rings of breaded okra really are a delight.

A Palatable Pastime
Even if you don't think you like okra, breaded and fried will win you over.

Right off the bat, I want to say that I KNOW there are a whole bunch of you out there who took one look at the word “okra” and took one step backwards (or maybe three) while you nervously looked around for the nearest exit.

I know how you feel. When I was a little kid, I felt much the same way. I’ve had that frozen okra plopped into a saucepan and boiled until it tastes like glue. It left me traumatized about this delicious pod. And in later years when my Aunt Docie would visit and make her famous gumbo, the pods went in. But eating that, and fishing about to ditch the little slices of okra was easy work, because it was delicious and then I learned that okra has a FLAVOR.

So, over time, I even learned to try fried okra, albeit the teeny tiny ones that were extra crispy. And if I dosed it with hot sauce and swallowed fast, I had to admit it was actually pretty good. And while you might be sitting there thinking I had developed a taste for slimy things, I am still telling you I don’t like slick okra.

And these actually are not, (and neither is my bindi curry or gumbo) but I have learned a couple of tricks that I can pass on to you. Choose the smallest pods that you can, with the idea being that the seeds are not as big as others. But sometimes, the pods are all pretty big. So in that case, I need you to not cut them in rings, but to go for spears, sort of the way pickles are sliced.

Work quickly after you cut the okra. I usually have my breading station set up and the oil heating when I start to cut it. And make sure when  you cook it, that you give it ample time to get crisp, drain it well and don’t crowd, and eat it right away. This all works for fried okra and I will give you another tip if you are not frying it, and that is to let it brown when you are adding it to things like gumbo or curry. That is something I picked up out of a Paul Prudhomme cookbook.

My husband says these are the best okra I have made so far. And you can either figure he is buttering me up or just telling it like it is. Or both. Ha! I don’t fry foods that often, so it is a treat. I actually cooked these for a cooking event among friends where I will be posting and trying Texas style recipes. When I realized I had not ever posted a fried okra recipe, I thought I should get on it, as it just screams Texas to me. All my Texas relatives just love fried okra. So I know they would approve. I hope you do as well.

Fried okra
Serves 2 to 4

8 ounces fresh baby okra, sliced
1/2 cup yellow corn meal
1 cup flour
2 tablespoons Cajun spice blend
1/4 cup milk
oil as needed

1. Stir together the corn meal, flour and seasoning.

2. Heat oil about an inch deep in a large skillet.

3. Slice okra and mix with milk.

4. Drain excess milk from okra.

5. Roll okra in flour mix to coat, then lightly sifting off excess flour through your fingers, add the okra to hot oil.

6. Cook several minutes until golden all over and drain.

Related post on A Palatable Pastime: Chicken fried steak

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