Posted by Tara on Monday, September 5th, 2011
One of my favorite traditional Southern dishes is Fried Okra. Honestly, I could make a meal with Fried Okra. Fresh okra makes the best fried okra. I grew up picking okra from my paternal and maternal granparents’ gardens as well as our own family garden. And I picked up a batch at the farmers market to make this “mess of okry” as my grandmother would call it.
A “mess” of okra would be enough to feed a family of 4-6. About 4 cups of fresh okra is a good start – enough to fill a large mixing bowl within a couple inches of the top. I like to rinse the okra in cold water and place it on a clean dish towel then blot it dry. Next the caps or tops get lobbed off with a sharp knife. Cutting the tips off is optional. In my opinion they are fine to eat, but don’t turn out as pretty as the cut sections from the middle of the okra. Finally I like to cut the rest of the okra into about 1/3-1/2 inch rounds.
- 4 cups fresh okra, caps and tips removed, cut into 1/2″ round pieces
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 2 cups self rising corn meal
- 2 teaspoons seasoned salt
- 4-6 cups of oil for frying
Place okra pieces in a large mixing bowl. Pour buttermilk over okra and toss okra with a large spoon to coat it with the buttermilk. Let okra have a buttermilk bath for 5-10 minutes. Then pour contents of bowl into a colander to drain the excess buttermilk. Mixture will most likely appear slightly slimey but don’t fret over this. It’s all good!
In a deep fryer or suitable pan for frying, add the oil and preheat fryer or pan to approximately 375 degrees. For best frying results, fill deep fryer to fill line or fill pot with about 4″ of oil. While oil is heating, finish preparing the breading for the okra:
Place the corn meal and seasoned salt in a gallon Zip Lock container. Add about 1 cup of the okra, zip bag closed, then shake the bag to coat the okra. Remove coated okra and place in a large clean dry dish or bowl. Continue breading the okra with the corn meal mixture until all okra has been coated.
When oil has preheated, carefully add about 2 cups of the breaded okra to the hot oil. Using a fryer basket that comes with the deep fryer is an easy way to handle to okra, fry it in oil, and remove the okra from oil. If using a pan on stove top method, use a large slotted metal spoon to ladle okra into oil. Okra will cook quickly and should turn golden brown in about 4-6 minutes. Remove okra from oil by lifting the basket from the fryer or using a slotted metal spoon to lift okra from pot on stove top. Carefully place hot fried okra on layers of paper towels to absorb excess oil. Okra is best served right away, but can be kept crisp under the broiler unit of the stove on a low setting for a few minutes. Kids love this with Ketchup!
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