Fried Okra

Photo by Joseph De Leo, Food Styling by Micah Marie Morton

Nothing says “Southern” like the smell of okra frying in a cast-iron skillet atop an angry flame. Done right, everybody loves okra. I have been known to turn the most fervent okra haters into okra lovers. Herbs and spices and the right cooking techniques can really change the experience and flavor. As an adult, I grilled okra for the first time, and added it to hushpuppies that turned into okra fritters. I’ve made okra relish and—dare I say it—jalapeño-okra jam and okra dip. You tell me you don’t like okra, then boy, do I have a few recipes for you.

Yield
6 servings

Ingredients

    • 1 pound okra, trimmed and halved lengthwise
    • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
    • Salt and pepper
    • 1 cup buttermilk
    • Peanut, canola, or vegetable oil, for frying
    • ½ cup fine white cornmeal
    • 2 cups rice flour

Preparation

    1. Place the okra in a medium bowl. Season with the cayenne and salt and black pepper. Toss with the buttermilk until well coated and let sit for 10 to 15 minutes; drain well.
    2. Fill a large cast-iron skillet with oil to a depth of 1/2 inch. Heat over medium-high heat to 350°F.
    3. Combine the cornmeal, rice flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper in a shallow dish. Dredge the okra in the cornmeal mixture, shaking off any excess. Working in batches to avoid crowding the skillet, add to the hot oil and fry, turning once, until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Drain on a crumpled brown paper bag or paper towels.
    4. Serve immediately.

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