I do not hail from a part of the country where okra is a staple. No, no. I'm from the other side. The anti-okra side. The confused okra side. The side that sees the weird foreign slimy vegetable and think: "Really?"
But my anti-okra statement was predicated on nothing if not so much as a misunderstanding of southern cuisine. If you see an ingredient that you don't like, bread it and fry it. Which 100% of the time = crazy delicious.
And so it is with okra. And as it was available at copious cheap amounts at my local farmers market, I decided to test my southern style by "frying up a batch".
And it can't be simpler. Slice okra. Add cornmeal and flour. Maybe some spices. Fry.
But I don't trust my okra knowledge, not yet. And so I drew inspiration from a self-proclaimed southerner.
And so I set myself the task of frying up the most questionably authentic okra I've ever attempted. And it was delicious. So delicious. It won't win any awards for nutrition, but damn, I want to make this every day.
A fair amount of okra (I would say about 3 handfuls was enough for 2-3)
-A splash of milk or cream (I used cream, but honestly, you could even omit this)
-1/4 cup self-raising flour
-1/4 cup cornmeal (yellow or white, I use yellow)
-1 tsp paprika
-1 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
-1 tsp achiote (if you have it, really any spice works)
-salt and pepper to taste
Mix your breading. Combine flour, cornmeal, and spices and season with salt and pepper.
Wash and slice your okra into small rounds, no more than a half an inch thick. Place slices in a large bowl.
At this point, heat the oil in your pan. You want to have enough oil so that it just barely covers the bottom of the pan (if you add too much, you may end up with soggy okra which would be a tragedy).
If using the milk/cream, add it now to the okra. Remember, just a splash! Mix the okra and cream well.
Now add the breading to the okra, again stir to combine and make sure each piece is coated.
Test the oil in your pan to see if it's ready. Throw a piece of okra in and if small bubbles emerge around it, you're good to go. You don't want to see a crazy rush of bubbles, otherwise your pan is too hot.
Add the okra in a single layer to the pan and leave it alone. Really. Don't indulge the inclining to stir. Let it fry. (Otherwise, you'll lose the breading.)
After a few minutes, about 2-3, see if the bottom of the okra is turning golden-brown. If so, you are now ready to flip. Turn the okra over with a spatula and now let the other side fry up nicely.
When both sides are nicely golden brown, take it out of the oil and leave it to drain on paper towels. Serve hot and enjoy.
|It may not look beautiful, but, trust me, it's delicious.|