Published by Workman
Prepared well, fried okra embodies the flavors of a primal southern garden. The problem is that most commercial establishments go too heavy on the breading and cook way too much at a time, which keeps the okra from getting crisp on the outside and tender inside. But at home, with a big cast-iron skillet, and no more than six to eight hungry mouths to feed, you’ll be able to cook up a perfect batch. Although larger okra is sold “for frying,” I prefer the flavor and texture of the smaller pods.
Serves6 to 8 as a side dish
Total Timeunder 1 hour
OccasionBuffet, Family Get-together
Recipe Courseside dish
Dietary Considerationegg-free, kosher, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free, vegetarian
Taste and Texturecrisp, crunchy, savory, tangy
Type of Dishvegetable
- 2 pounds small okra, stem ends trimmed, sliced into ¼-inch-thick slices
- 1 cup cornmeal
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt, or to taste
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1½ cups vegetable oil or lard, or as needed
Place the okra in a bowl of ice water for 15 minutes to crisp; drain and pat dry.
Combine the cornmeal, flour, salt, and pepper in a shallow pan. Transfer the okra to a large bowl and toss with the buttermilk. Lift the okra out with a slotted spoon and place in the pan of cornmeal, tossing it around to lightly coat. Transfer the okra to a rack set over a baking sheet.
In a large deep cast-iron or other heavy skillet, heat ¾ cup of the oil over high heat until almost smoking. Add just enough okra to cover the bottom of the skillet in a single layer, without crowding, lower the heat to medium, and cook until golden and crusty on the bottom, about 6 minutes. Turn and cook, tossing the okra once or twice, until well colored and crisp on all sides. With a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper towel-lined sheet pan and season with salt and pepper. Keep warm in a low oven while you continue to cook the okra in batches, adding the remaining oil as needed. Dig in while the okra is warm!
2004 Frank Stitt