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Posts Tagged ‘okra’

Perfect Bites: Southern Pan Fried Okra

One of my absolute favorite foods is fresh fried okra. Not the over-battered kind, but the lightly dusted in cornmeal, pan-fried extra crispy (no goo) kind. This recipe is one that my mother passed along and it makes the perfect bite of fried okra every time. It is so simple and so delicious! I could eat an entire pan of this okra myself…but I practice self control and always make it when I have someone to share a few bites with 🙂

The trick to this recipe is the okra…only fresh summer okra will do. I have attempted to re-create the fried okra using frozen okra and it just doesn’t work out well. It actually ends up a soggy mess. So reap the benefits of your farmer’s market, CSA box, or garden grown okra while it lasts and fry up this Southern delight!

Mama’s Crispy Pan Fried Okra

  • fresh okra
  • cornmeal (white or yellow)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • dash of cayenne (optional)
  • vegetable or canola oil for frying

To make:

Heat oil in a saute or frying pan (cast iron is best) over medium-high heat. I use just enough oil to cover the okra about 1/4-1/2 way. This is more of a pan fry method rather than a deep fry.

Cut the okra ends off and slice into rounds approximately 1/2 inch in length. Working rather quickly (to take advantage of the okra “goo”) place okra in a shallow dish, season with salt and pepper (and cayenne if you are using). Sprinkle a heaping layer of corn meal on top of the okra and gently mix to coat the okra.

Lightly coat the okra in cornmeal, salt and pepper

If the okra is fresh enough there should be enough okra goo to make the corn meal stick. Carefully place okra in hot oil. Do not over fill the pan with the okra, you want only one layer of okra in the pan to ensure all of the sides of the okra get crispy. Cover the pan and cook for approximately 10  minutes, gently stir about 1/2 way through. Monitor the heat to prevent the okra burning or oil from getting too hot when covered. Remove cover and cook until okra has browned to your preference (another 5-10 minutes). I like a few pieces to be on the darker side (usually the smaller ones). Okra will crisp up more as it cools. Remove cooked okra with a slotted spoon from the oil and let cool slightly on a paper towel lined plate. Serve warm or at room temperature.  Enjoy!

Just a little oil to pan fry this crispy summer treat!

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Smothered Okra

Okra is a Southern staple that has a bad reputation. If cooked improperly (or to some true okra lover’s preference) there will be a significant amount of “goo” that goes with the dish. One way to reduce the “goo” is to saute or pan fry the okra before using it. This is a simple trick  I learned in my Cajun/Creole themed cooking class I took this weekend. I don’t really mind the “goo,” but most people I cook for these days have yet to acquire the distinctive okra loving palate!

Aside from lightly breading fresh okra and frying it up, my next favorite way to cook the mysterious green veggie is to combine it with tomatoes and serve over rice. This recipe for smothered okra is one that I found scourging through some family recipes—the exact origin is unknown. I took the liberty to spice it up a bit so feel free to do the same. The basic mix of okra, tomatoes, onions, and garlic is an easy go-to for using frozen okra when fresh is out of season or hard to find.

Smothered Okra

Ingredients:

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cups smoked cooked sausage, sliced on a bias (I used kielbasa, but you can use any smoked link sausage you like–even turkey)

2 cloves garlic (minced)

1 lb frozen cut okra

1 (10 oz) can diced tomatoes with chilies

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp Kosher salt

ground black pepper to taste

Instructions:

Saute the okra in 2 tbsp vegetable oil 4-6 minutes, stirring occasionally for even cooking (cook longer to remove more of the “goo” if desired). Drain and pat excess oil with a paper towel, set aside. Saute the onions and garlic in a scant amount of olive oil in large skillet, just until soft. Add smoked sausage and cooked okra. Stir to combine. Add can of diced tomatoes with juices. Stir gently over medium heat, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Uncover, add salt, cayenne and ground pepper–cook another 10 minutes (covered or uncovered depending on how thick you want the mixture to be; left uncovered most of the liquid will evaporate), stir occasionally.

Not "goo" but "good"

Serve warm over cooked rice (white, brown, or any kind you like!)

Hopefully this recipe will make okra lovers out of you all!  Enjoy!

Vegetarian option:  Leave out the sausage and add an additional pound of frozen okra and 1 more can of tomatoes.

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