Batter-Fried Okra

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Easy

  • Makes

    4 to 5

    servings

Appears in

The Glory of Southern Cooking

The Glory of Southern Cooking

By James Villas

Published 2007

  • About

While Yankees almost gag at the sight of the slimy boiled or braised okra beloved by so many Rebels, I’ve yet to meet one who didn’t take to dry, crisp fried okra almost from the first bite. And, Lord, there really is nothing more delicious or addictive than a basket of batter-fried okra nibbled with cocktails or served as a side dish to numerous Southern specialties. Only fresh okra should be fried, and use nothing but small, green pods that have no blemishes or dark spots (signs that the okra is tough and way over the hill). Some Southern cooks like to parboil okra briefly, refresh it under cold running water, and dry it to cut the frying time in half. Others believe that soaking the okra in ice water about 15 minutes makes it much crisper when fried. Whatever the method used, the two cardinal rules for frying okra are never to crowd the pan and never try to keep okra warm in the oven, which only makes it soggy.

Ingredients

  • pounds small, firm fresh okra
  • 1 cup white cornmeal or fine cracker crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup regular buttermilk
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • Tabasco sauce to taste
  • Lard or vegetable shortening, for deep frying

Method

Rinse the okra well, remove the stems, and either leave the pods whole or cut them into ½-inch rounds. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add the okra, and parboil 2 minutes. Drain in a colander, refresh under cold running water, and pat dry with paper towels.

In a shallow bowl, combine the cornmeal, salt, pepper, buttermilk, egg, and Tabasco and beat till the batter is smooth.

In a large, heavy iron skillet, heat enough lard or shortening to reach about ½ inch up the sides till very hot, about 375°F on a deep-frying thermometer. In batches, dip the okra into the batter till well coated, allowing excess batter to drain off, then carefully drop the battered okra into the fat, without overcrowding the pan, and fry till golden brown and crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the okra to a large cookie sheet covered with paper towels and, if you like, sprinkle with a little extra salt. Serve hot with cocktails or as a side dish.