We’re breaking new boundaries today! We’re covering new territory! We’re broadening our horizons! And we’re using an obnoxious amount of exclamation points!
We’re frying okra.
But not just any okra! Purple okra. Which, okay you can just ignore that because it’s the exact same as green okra. It totally turns green when you cook it. Like, it’s no different at all. But you know what? Purple okra makes me feel cheeky and THAT IS OKAY.
Or is it red okra?
Soooo. I . . . never fry things. I guess I should say hardly ever. All that oil in a deep pan, spittering and spattering and sputtering, teeeeeeerrifying.
Okay where this comes from; most anytime we go visit my parental units in Arkansas, mom has a huge basket of freshly fried okra waiting for us (and fritos and a can of bean dip – b.e.s.t.s.n.a.c.k.e.v.e.r.), and without fail, every single time, Aaron goes completely berzerk on the okra. It’s like watching the end of the Hunger Games. You cannot look away. And last weekend when we spotted this purpleredorwhatever okra at the farmers’ market, it was like, all of the one lightbulb in my head went off. And I knew my time had arrived.
I did it! I did it for Aaron. I did it for myself. I did it for you. I did it for love. (you have to picture my fist over my heart. and squinched up eyebrows.)
And it’s not that hard at all! Little soaky mcsoakerton in some buttermilk, little tossy mctosserton with some flour and cornmeal, little fry-y mcfryerton (you want to stab me right now) in some donkey-hot oil.
Here’s the PRE-FRY photo. I got better at getting the FEEL of tossing them with the flour mixture the more I did it. It’s like your fingers do a little “jazz hands” motion as the excess coating falls through them, making them evenly and perfectly coated little okra babies. Ready to meet their doomsday.
That was out loud, wasn’t it?
Post-fry! Would ya just look at that. I didn’t get a picture of the actual frying because my camera was covered in sweat and tears and oh look at that I’m late for therapy.
These are so good. Let me tell you something. Once they’re all good and fried and you have them in a single layer on some paper towels draining a smidge, give them another good sprinkling of salt. And a nice squeeze of fresh lemon or lime juice, because you just can’t even take it anymore.
Aaaand they’re all gone.
Southern Fried Okra:
(adapted from Ezra Poundcake)
What it took for 1. Okaaaay 4:
* 1 pound red or green okra, ends trimmed and sliced into 1/4th inch pieces
* 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
* 1/2 cup corn meal
* good pinch of cayenne
* good pinch of salt, plus more for right at the end
* good pinch of freshly ground black pepper
* 1 cup buttermilk
* enough canola or vegetable oil to fill up an 8-inch cast iron about an inch deep (maybe 2-3 cups?)
In a shallow bowl, mix together the flour, corn meal, cayenne, salt and pepper.
Pour the buttermilk into a bowl and add the okra, stirring to coat.
Now, with a slotted spoon, remove the okra in small batches and toss into the corn/flour mixture. Toss around with your hands, letting the excess flour fall through your fingers. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Continue with the rest of the okra.
Heat the oil until it’s like, really hot. You can stick a little wooden stick in the oil, and if it sizzles, you’re ready. It’s ready. WE ARE READY.
Again, in small batches, spoon over a few okras at the time into the hot oil (I used a large spoon because every time I tossed an okra into the oil, it would splatter me and I would cry) and fry until golden brown. This will seeeeriously not take long. Like 10 seconds. AND, the further into the frying you get, the less time it takes. SCIENCE.
Once they’re good and fried, arrange in a single layer on some paper towels so they can drain.
Give them one last good salting, and serve in a basket or whatever with some fresh lemon juice and your favorite dipping sauce! Or eat them as is.
The south has risen.