Back when I first started Southern Plate, I had an email from a reader asking if I could do a tutorial on fried okra. Well, y’all know I’ll eventually get to everything and here it is, the long awaited fried okra tutorial!
Fried okra is a truly delicious side dish. It seems no matter the time of year, whether it be frozen or fresh, okra always adds that “fresh from the garden” taste to any meal. Around these parts, you can find it pre-breaded in the freezer section and some places even sell cups of it hot alongside chicken nuggets and such at lunch. Although I have no complaint if I am getting okra (no matter how it is prepared), my all time favorite form of okra is prepared at home, with this recipe.
I have a funny story about okra which some of my friends from my teenage years are thinking of right now as they read this (it kind of made an impression!). When we were teens, my parents used to go out of town on the weekends a lot. My brother was around 20, I was about seventeen, and my sister was 15 at the time. Once, when they were gone to Nashville for the weekend, I decided I would invite all of my friends over and have a dinner party – dun-Dun-DUN!
This was before my cooking days had really taken off and my experience didn’t reach beyond cracker dumplings and frozen pizzas so I decided that spaghetti would be a good choice (seemed easy enough, right?). I used store bought sauce and put it on first thing in the morning, adding plenty of ground beef. However, the sauce didn’t look appealing or labor intensive enough – I wanted to fancy it up a bit and impress everyone with my grand culinary skills. I remembered my home economics teacher telling us that we should serve food in a variety of colors in order to have a more appealing meal. Well that made sense, I’ll just add some more colors to the sauce!
That evening, my friends were quite surprised (and I was confused that they weren’t as impressed as I thought they would be) when I served them spaghetti with okra and corn in the sauce! We still laugh about that and shake my head at my seventeen year old self. God love her, she had good intentions.
You’ll need: Fresh or frozen okra (I am using frozen), salt, pepper, cornmeal (self rising or plain, either is fine), and vegetable oil. If using fresh okra, go ahead and slice it up like this okra is.
Place your sliced okra in a bowl and add corn meal, salt, and pepper.
Have your grandmother stir it all up while you take a photo
(or you can just stir it up yourself – I realize not everyone has a grandmother handy!)
Place about 1/4 cup oil in skillet and heat over medium heat for three to five minutes.
Take okra out of bowl with a slotted spoon and place in heated oil.
Keep skillet on medium heat (if in a hurry, you can cook this on medium high heat, just watch it a bit closer).
Stir it occasionally (every two or three minutes) for about twenty or twenty five minutes or so, until crisp and browned.
Remove cooked okra with a slotted spoon and place into serving bowl.
DEVOUR! (This is the good stuff!)
*Special thanks to my mother for doing this tutorial for me. I also want to thank her for driving all the way to my house to bring me her camera’s SD card when her computer had problems preventing her from emailing them.
I also want to thank her for the good laugh I got when she sent me an email last week (before her computer had issues) with these photos attached – supposedly. I opened the email this morning to do this post and found photos labeled “okra” – but they were actually from the event where my mom and dad got to meet John McCain and Sarah Palin. Mama had no idea until this morning! That was a good laugh for both of us.
My dad and Cindy McCain, who will hereafter be thought of as “Okra’s Wife”.