My brother Gordon has loved fried okra all his life, and I admit I have learned to love it. The best okra is homegrown, but you can find good okra in a farmer’s market, too. When buying fresh okra look for firm, brightly colored pods under 4 inches long. Larger pods may be tough and fibrous. Avoid those that are dull, limp or blemished. Frozen okra is also available, or you can make your own.
Fried okra is a staple in the south, and there are several ways to make it. My mother uses cornmeal, my sister prefers flour, but I like a combination of the two.
1 pound fresh okra
2 eggs, beaten
2 T. milk or buttermilk
1 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt or Tony Chachere’s seasoning
Peanut or vegetable oil for frying
Wash okra and drain well. Cut crosswise into 1/2-inch slices; discard stem ends. In a bowl, combine beaten eggs, milk, and salt or Chachere’s seasoning. Add okra and stir to coat all pieces well. In a large ziploc bag, combine cornmeal and/or flour.
Dredge okra pieces in cornmeal mixture to coat well. (At this point the okra may be refrigerated and held several hours until time to fry.) Heat 1/2” oil in an electric skillet to 360°. Fry okra in batches until browned, about 4 to 6 minutes for each batch. Do not overcrowd the skillet! Drain on paper towels and serve immediately.
FROZEN breaded okra:
After dipping and dredging the okra, spread in a single layer on cookie sheet and place in freezer until frozen. Store in a large ziploc bag. Frozen okra may be fried without thawing first, but allow more time for the temperature of the oil to adjust, and do NOT crowd the skillet.
Note: fresh sliced tomatoes are a perfect food to have with fried okra. Other ideas: yellow squash, butterbeans or purple hull peas.