How to Make The Best Fried Okra
My Okra History
I am fortunate to live in close proximity to my family. They live in a rural area and have large vegetable gardens every year. In the summer, I greatly benefit from the surplus in their gardens and receive several pounds of fresh cut okra each year.
As our reputation indicates, here in the Deep South we fry basically everything. Ever since I was a young child, I loved fried okra. I remember my grandmother frying it in her black cast iron skillet on her gas stove when we would go for a visit. There was nothing better! We would all sneak nibbles of its crispy goodness as the okra sat cooling on the plate.
When I go to a restaurant or even try to buy okra in the store, it is always the kind with a thick layer of batter all around. Even though this is certainly edible, it is nothing compared to the way my grandmother and mother make their fried okra. Their okra was thin, lightly breaded with corn meal and fried to mouthwatering crunchy bites. In my opinion, the more commercially produced fried okra just doesn't even even come close!
Thankfully, my grandmother, mother and aunts have passed down their great okra frying wisdom to me. While I am no exceptional cook by any means, if you ask my husband if I have any dishes that I make especially well, he will say without hesitation that I do know how to fry some great okra!
What You Will Need
2-3 lbs of fresh cut okra
6 cups of cornmeal (approximate)
1/2 cup of flour
1/2 gallon of vegetable or canola oil (approximate)
Makes 6-8 servings.
You will put the cornmeal, flour and salt/pepper to taste in a large bowl and mix until blended. Wash okra and then cut up the okra, slicing thinly. Discard head and tips of okra. Place sliced okra in bowl and toss to coat with cornmeal mixture. Heat oil in large skillet/pan on stovetop. Add okra to the heated oil. Cook on medium high stirring occasionally until okra is well browned and has reached desired level of crispiness. It usually takes me about 30-45 minutes for a large amount. When okra is ready, dip out with a large slotted spoon to drain grease and place on a paper towels to drain and cool.
Do not put okra into skillet unless oil is hot. If the okra cooks too long it will not maintain its crispy quality.
Okra is very slimy after you wash it - just something to be aware of - but this helps it to better hold the cornmeal mixture coating.
Be careful when placing okra in and when taking it out of the hot oil in the pan so as not to let the oil splash out and burn you.
Slicing 2-3 lbs of okra can be time consuming. Sometimes 15-30 minutes. Just be aware of this so you don't underestimate your cooking prep time.
I hope you enjoy this okra recipe. The amount of oil and cornmeal will vary with the amount of okra you use. If you find there is not enough cornmeal to coat the okra then just add more. Just make sure you have enough oil in the pan to cover the okra. I usually fill the pan about 1/3 full with oil. Happy frying!