What comes to mind when you think of okra? Slime? Soup? Prickly? Have you ever eaten okra? Better yet...have you ever experienced fried okra?
When I think of okra, I think of lazy summers, warm humid nights, sweet ice tea, southern hospitality and the heavenly aromas coming from my grandmothers kitchen. I'm reminded of long visits and lots of laughter. Family, love, roots and heritage. I was introduced to fried okra at a young age and have loved it since. I didn't even know that okra came any other way until I was an adult. (Okra in soup? really?)Up until I was an adult, all my okra experience was during my visits to my dads home town in Alabama.
But lets take a little detour and see what else okra is about. I know I probably kill most of the benefits when I fry my okra but this is how it stacks up in the nutrition game before I attack it:
"One hundred grams of Okra contains about 33 calories, 2.0 grams of protein, 7.6 grams of carbohydrates, with 0.1 grams fat. It is a very good source of dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, thiamin, riboflavin, folate, calcium, magnesium, potassium and manganese, and a good source of niacin, iron, phosphorus, zinc and copper". (quoted from A 2 Z of Health, Beauty and Fitness which seems to be a pretty cool site, loaded with great info.)
If you're turned off by the slime in okra, then you need to try fried okra. No slime. I swear. Sure it's full of fat by now. But I only make it maybe twice a year....so I don't feel all that guilty.
I don't always have the time to mess with, nor can I always find fresh okra in my store. So I've been buying the bag of pre-cut frozen okra. I show a carton of buttermilk below. If you use fresh okra, you won't need the buttermilk. All the slime will be just fine for making the cornmeal stick.
1 lb. bag of frozen okra, still frozen
1 cup butter milk
1 cup or so of cornmeal (yellow, white...doesn't matter)
Salt and pepper to taste
Garlic powder to taste
Cayenne Pepper to taste...but I suggest a small amount, 1/4 - 1/2 tsp, tops
Combine the cornmeal and seasoning. Place the okra in a strainer over a bowl, and pour the buttermilk over the okra
Because the okra is still frozen, they're gonna wanna stick together. Get your hand in there, mix it up a bit and separate the ones that are stuck.
Drain the bowl and put the okra into the bowl. Pour the cornmeal mix on the okra
Toss them around so they all get nicely coated.
This is a bit messy...but it really doesn't take that long to do. The longest part is coming up....cooking in batches
Heat up about 1/4" of vegetable oil in heavy skillet (if you're into temps....maybe 350' F, otherwise until its all splattery when you sprinkle it with water). Get a plate and line it with some paper towel and have a slotted spoon of some sort ready
You want to cook in batches so everything cooks evenly. The first batch will probably take the longest, especially if you're using frozen okra, like me.
Put about 1/3 of your okra into the pan, or how ever much will "comfortable" fit in a single layer
After several minutes, when the bottoms are nice and golden, get a spatula or spoon or whatever you're comfy with and turn them over
As they start getting good and brown, remove them to your paper towel lined plate for draining. Repeat the steps until they're all cooked.
Look at this crispy goodness! Heaven...I tell ya...simple and pure
Suggested accoutrements? All things southern...fried green tomatoes, greens, black-eyed peas, fried chicken, pork chops, ham, creamed corn, cole slaw, boston butt, corn bread. It's all good y'all!