Southern Fried Okra
I have a confession to make.
When I first moved to Oklahoma (from Michigan) 20 years ago, I didn’t know what “okra” was. I had no idea about the wonder of freshly fried Southern okra with its glorious crispy crunch. I didn’t know what “brisket” was. I’d never had beans- n-ham or country fried steak. I was a Northern girl and hadn’t yet been “southernized”.
And can I just add that I weighed about 50 pounds less?
This is another dish that Mamoo used to make for the kids.
Southern Fried Okra. She didn’t use that frozen stuff that you buy at the grocery store either. She trekked off to the farmers market and bought it and chunked it up herself. Dredged in a light coating of cornmeal, this was better than any okra I’d had anywhere.
And it’s very simple to make.
That end is the “pod end” and needs to be cut off. The other end is perfectly edible, but it is thin so it will fry into little crispies. You can toss out the tiny end too, but they’re kind of fun to eat.
Take 3 or 4 okra and line them up and cut off the pod end.
Then sliced the rest into 1/2 inch pieces. Look at the little flowery pieces…ain’t they cute?
I didn’t say things like “ain’t they cute” either till I started eating okra and living in Oklahoma. I also say “ya’ll” now.
But I draw the line at “fixin to”!
Anyway, get a large skillet and pour at least an inch of vegetable or canola oil into it. You want this really hot and you don’t want to add your okra until it will really bubble over the pieces. I always fry (which isn’t often) outside on our side burner of our grill so as to not smell up the house with hot oil. Thus, the reflection in the pan of trees and clouds.
Slice up all your okra (I had one pound) and put them in a colander and give them a good rinse under running water.
In a large bowl, measure in one cup of cornmeal. Get the self-rising kind if you can. Add one-fourth of a cup of flour. Also add in 1 teaspoon of salt and a dash of cayenne pepper. Or you could just add some black pepper.
Dump your wet okra pieces right into the cornmeal mixture.
Now take some tongs or just use your hands, if you’re that type to live dangerously, and really toss them around and get them well-coated with the cornmeal.
Take a large slotted spoon or a spider spoon and scoop up several of the okra pieces. Kind of shake them on the spoon to get rid of the excess cornmeal. Then drop them right into your hot oil.
Let them bubble and fry, turning them occasionally with your big spoon or spider.
After about 5-6 minutes and when they feel crisp when you touch them with the spoon, remove them to a paper towel lined plate or bowl.
Hurry up and sprinkle a little salt over them while they’re hot.
And then transfer them to a serving basket or dish. But first, you might want to cheat and just pop one of these crispy beautiful babies into your mouth.
Don’t worry, I won’t tell.
- 1 pound fresh okra
- 2 c. canola or vegetable oil
- 1 c. self-rising cornmeal
- ¼ c. flour
- 1 t. salt
- ¼ t. cayenne or black pepper
- Extra salt for sprinkling
- Heat oil in large skillet until very hot.
- Slice off pod end of okra. Cut okra into ½ inch pieces Rinse in colander.
- In large bowl, mix cornmeal, flour, salt and pepper.
- Add okra and toss well to coat. Scoop onto slotted spoon and shake off excess.
- Add to hot skillet and fry 5-6 minutes or until crispy golden.
- Remove with slotted spoon to paper towel lined platter or basket.
- Sprinkle with additional salt, if desired.