Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Fried Okra

fried okra

My Great-Aunt Alice, who was really my first cousin twice removed, once lamented to me that "young people just don't know how to do the BASICS of cooking anymore. I had a young lady ask me how to snap beans, once!"

I sympathized, but I couldn't say anything. I sure knew how to snap beans - I think my grandmother taught me how to do that on her front porch when I was three years old - but at one point I didn't know a whole lot about cooking, either. My mom used to run us out of the kitchen!

So when I can, I'll include "basics of cooking" - such as, fried okra. It's one of those things that's really easy to do, but unless you've ever been shown it - you just don't know how to do. So I'm going to show you.

First of all - don't get the biggest okra you can find. As okra gets bigger, it generally gets tougher and bitter, and no one will want to eat it. The only caveat to this is - there ARE some varieties that are short and squat that are really sweet and good, but unless you grew them yourself or got them from someone who grew them themselves, you're not likely to run into them. So - buy some okra that is relatively small, like these. They're about - oh, I dunno, 4 or 5 inches -

raw okra

Rinse them well, then trim off the heads and the tails; discard those.

About this time you'll need to get your oil ready; I just use a large frying pan with about 1/2 inch of oil. I use canola oil. You'll want the oil hot, so I set the burner between med. high and high. When it starts to pop, it's ready.

Cut the okra up into about 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch pieces. If it's a large piece of okra, cut them thinner. As you're cutting, throw them into a bowl of corn meal and coat well. The insides will be gooey like snot.

bread the okra

Now the fun part - fry those suckers up! Shake off the excess corn meal, and add them to the oil - few pieces at a time. Add them fast, but don't get burned!


Turn them as they start to brown. It shouldn't take more than 5 - 10 minutes, each side. When they're brown, take them out and put them on paper towels to drain.


This is when you add salt to them. Doesn't have to be much, just enough to enhance the flavor. You can now stick them in a warm oven while you finish cooking the rest of your dinner - but be sure to pop a few in your mouth, too! All good cooks have to taste test.

Fried okra, if done right and done with the right sized okra, is almost sweet. Serve it with your favorite meat & side dish. Tonight we had it with panfried pork chops and mashed potatoes.


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