Written by Emily Storrow | Photography by Jonathan Boncek
Six Simple Steps, No Deep Fryer Required
There’s no way around it—okra is polarizing. The little pod, with its sticky, seedy interior, has its loyal fan club and out- spoken haters. Like fellow Southern staples black-eyed peas, yams, and rice, okra was introduced to the region in the eighteenth century when slave ships bound for the Americas carried it across the Atlantic, where it thrived in the heat and humidity of Southern summers.
When frying, roasting, or grilling okra, look for small- to medium-sized pods. They’re more tender and have smaller seeds (and in turn, less slime). Once a pod exceeds four inches, it’s best used as a thickening agent in gumbo or stew. While some cooks instinctive-ly remove the caps of okra, they’re perfectly edible—though in this recipe, we slice them off before whole-frying the pods for a well-cooked interior. A soak in buttermilk ensures the cornmeal- our breading will stick to the okra. For less mess, use one hand to toss the pods in buttermilk, and the other to toss them in the dry ingredients. Now, you’re ready to fry. Be careful when placing the okra in hot oil—you may wish to use tongs or a mesh skimmer. To avoid splatter, lower one end into the oil, pause brie y, then drop the whole pod in. They’ll fry up in about six minutes. When they’re golden brown, remove them from the oil and drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Salt to taste, and serve with your favorite remoulade.
•1 pound fresh okra, preferably small pods
•Buttermilk, enough to cover okra
•1/2 cup of flour
•1 cup cornmeal
•1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
•1/4 teaspoon black pepper
•1 teaspoon salt
•4 cups neutral oil