Fried Okra…

img_3323.jpgFried Okra! This Southern Favorite has been around as long as anyone can remember and without exception is remembered fondly! So fondly that one friend named her precious little Dog, Okra. I’ve been told that a man who had a particular fondness for Okra named his two daughters Okra and Hibiscus! (Okra plants bear Hibiscus-like blossoms and are in the same plant family!) Those were brilliant names; a guarantee that everyone would love those girls! However, Okra is an acquired taste for anyone who was born outside of the South- there are whines that it is slimy (and it is slimy unless it’s fried)  Folks also wonder ‘Why anyone would eat Okra!’ Well, okra that is not fried, is used to thicken the finest gumbos, the best pots of vegetable soups, and a pod or two placed on the top of a pan of simmering Field Peas, Baby Limas or Speckled Butterbeans- makes the broth thicker with a distinct flavor that cannot be achieved by any other means. South Carolina touts Okra Soup- a comfort food for them, associated with being home… A friend who is an only child– (this is an important point)- had one grandmother who would fry up a mess of okra, put it in a large bowl and he would eat it like popcorn! Many have actually dubbed Fried Okra as Southern Popcorn. IMG_3320

The most difficult part of making Fried Okra is having enough fried okra to begin with, then actually getting a full platter to the table! Folks will actually stand in the kitchen while it’s frying and eat it right as it’s being pulled out of the hot grease! So, rule 1- Don’t let anyone in the kitchen when you’re frying Okra!

I believe the very best Okra is no longer than the average size pinky finger in length. *If it is longer, discard or cut the bottom part as larger Okra can be woody and tough.  And the quicker you fry it after it’s picked the better it will be!

Everyone has their own method of frying Okra, always in hot grease; How to bread or batter Okra before frying can be debated. All I can say is that I don’t like a heavy batter on Okra as it can get soggy. Actually, I don’t batter Okra at all, I don’t flour it, I don’t just dust it with cornmeal– I whisk a bit of salt with 1/3 part Corn Starch to 2/3 part Self Rising Cornmeal, soft grind and white meal. *Using Corn Starch is my grandmother’s secret! It makes Fried Okra stay crisp longer! IMG_3305

Camellia’s Cottage Fried Okra

  • Buy the freshest small Okra pods you can find.
  • To prepare Okra:  Cut the pods of Okra in 1/4″ to 1/2″ pieces
  • Dredge them in the Cornmeal/Corn Starch ( 1/3 part Corn Starch/ 2/3 part Cornmeal and pinch of Salt Mixture) immediately.
  • Don’t make the mistake of cutting the okra, salting it in prep time and letting it sit before dredging it in your choice of a Cornmeal Batter or dusting it in the Meal Mix
  • *Salt and Time cause the Okra to weep slimy tears!
  • Some say and I believe it- if you refrain from cutting the tops off of the Okra Pods and instead cut okra slices from the end of the pod toward the top- then discard the tops, there is less chance of weeping. IMG_3318
  • Fry the cut and dusted Okra in Hot Oil, Shortening or even Lard which is at least one inch deep in a Cast Iron Pan until golden brown and crispy (Okra doesn’t like to be crowded or it won’t be crispy! So plan to fry in small batches.
  • Drain on paper towels or even better a brown paper bag!
  • Season with additional Salt before serving as Hot as possible!

Now, if you want to make sure you have enough for folks to enjoy, buy lots of Okra at the Farmer’s Market!  Allow a whopping 1-2 lbs per person! *Any leftover Corn Meal Mixture and a few pods of Okra- add a whisked egg and a bit of water or milk and thinly sliced okra to make a loose batter which will in turn make wonderful Okra Patties! IMG_3322

You may be wondering what we eat with Fried Okra, the answer is actually everything… a few months ago, one of my dearest friends and I ate at a BBQ dive which also serves our beloved Southern Vegetable Plates! When I ordered my BBQ sandwich, my ‘choose any side’ was Fried Okra!

  • Oh yum, BBQ plates with cool slaw, fried okra and baked beans- wonderful combo!
  • Fried Okra is a wonderful addition to an all Vegetable Plate- Fresh Field Peas, Macaroni and Cheese and Sliced Summer Tomatoes.
  • Fried Okra is unexpected when tossed on top of Soup, Gumbo or Salad instead of Croutons! Fried Okra also makes a wonderful topping for Shrimp and Grits
  • A side of Fried Okra is  great with Chicken and Dumplings.  Alongside Meat Loaf, Pork Chops or Country Fried Steak with Gravy and Rice, Fried Okra is perfect!

In fact Fried Okra elevates any meal to a Southern Specialty! If you go to the Farmer’s Market this weekend, get some fresh Okra for Sunday Supper! Fried Okra, Country Ham, Butterbeans, yes Ma’am!

Love y’all, Camellia

Please join Camellia’s Cottage in praying for the residents and emergency workers of entire Coastal and Lower South which may be affected by Hurricane Harvey. * Fried Okra, Country Ham…is a play on a famous fraternity ditty *All photographs are obviously mine! *I use Argo Corn Starch but this is not a paid advertisement for the brand

37 thoughts on “Fried Okra…

  1. One of the great comfort foods of all time. However, I was never able to manage boiled okra. I would rather eat haggis before I eat boiled okra, and I say that as one who has eaten both.

    My nieces and nephews who live in the Midwest refer to boiled okra as, “That vegetable that has guts.”

    Sounds about right to me. Great visual imagery.

    Big mistake some cooks make is not having oil at the right temperature. Trick I learned many decades ago was to slice a piece of bread into a sliver the size of your pinkie finger. Drop it into the heating oil, and if it begins to toast immediately, your oil has reached the right temperature. If the bread sits there and sogs in the oil without browning immediately, so will your okra.

    Dropping okra into oil that is not hot enough will result in something not recognizable as food.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. I have heard of the spit trick, just make sure you are alone in the kitchen.

        Did you see the episode of Julia Child where she dropped something on the floor, picked it up, rinsed it off, then tossed it into the pot? She said, with a sly grin, “Remember, you are alone in the kitchen!”

        The bread technique for testing temperature of the oil works for all fried foods. I first heard of it for cooking crisp french fries. The idea is to “surprise” the food surface; therefore, the oil must be hot enough to seal the item quickly. The crisp outer surface forms a barrier that keeps moisture inside and the oil out.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Love this! We were so excited to eat loads of okra when we were in States this summer. It’s sooooo good! Would it be ok if I share this via reblog? (Also helps me to reference it if we can ever find Okra in the market.)

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Reblogged this on lifexperimentblog and commented:
    Hello 🙂
    I had to share this fab fried okra recipe I found from http://www.camelliascottage.com I was so happy to see this! When we were in States this summer, we fell in love with okra. Good thing too, because it was in everything! I can’t wait to find some okra and try this recipe. I’ve been told the key is to make sure the oil is hot as molten lava.
    Thanks, Camellia, for letting me share this!
    Enjoy!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I never guessed any one else in the world liked okro as much as Ewes, my tribe. I see you all really love Fried Okro. We make Okro soup too and combined with other vegetables like garden eggs / aubergine varieties of soup or stew can be made. I shall try the Fried Okro.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. My mouth is watering now for some fried okra! I’ve eaten it all kinds of ways, fried, in stews, pickled, and even raw. Sadly, I can’t eat it anymore… I can’t eat any kind of seeds. I miss it! If you know of a good way to remove the seeds before cooking let me know! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. oh yes it is!! though I do enjoy it in soups and gumbo all year round! but fried? yes! summer! I think the cornstarch is sort of the same principle as tempura batter… let me how you like it! my grandmother thought this method helped the fried okra stay crisp longer but still… it really is eaten almost as soon as it’s fried! thank you for stopping by!

      Like

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