I love fried okra. It’s about the only way I like it. I’m not fond of it in gumbo or other cooked dishes that allow its slime to develop. But the older I get, the more I dislike the taste of the tried-and-true southern way of cooking okra that I grew up with. The heavy flour-and cornmeal breading soaked up too much oil and hid the flavor of the okra, which my waistline and taste buds have come to resent.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve noticed several food bloggers offering up different versions of “okra fries”. The cooks raved over the taste and the simplicity. The recipes were pretty simple and similar, a light dusting of flour or cornmeal seasoned with various spices, and then lightly cooked in oil. Some were fried in a skillet on the stove while others were baked in the oven. Intrigued, I decided to do a taste test with my family to see how the different recipes stacked up. It was a tough assignment, but in the interest of science, and my waistline I put my shoulder to the plow, and came off the other end of the row with a new way to enjoy okra that will forever replace my old tried-and-true technique of over-breading, over-frying.
The okra was prepared 2 ways. Either quartered, as pictured above, or left whole. I tossed the slices with a little flour mixed salt, pepper, and onion powder.
I then fried some of the okra slices and some of the whole okra on the stove top, while the rest of the slices and whole okra were baked in the oven after drizzling with a little olive oil.
Hands down, everyone preferred the sliced, fried-on-the-stove-top okra. The whole okra, fried or baked, ended up limp and tough to bite into. We did agree the oven baked okra, both the strips and whole okra, retained more okra flavor, but they lacked the crispness that drove us to keep picking at the stove-top fried pile on the plate. Until they were all gone, and we complained all night about how stuffed we were. And because the strips cooked so fast on the stove-top, I didn’t begrudge the little bit of oil they may have absorbed.
Here’s the recipe so you can stuff yourself too!
How to make Fried Okra Reborn:
okra, about 1/4 lb per person, quartered into strips
flour, 1/4 cup per 2lbs okra
1 teaspoon onion powder per 1/4 cup flour
salt and pepper to taste
Trim, wash and dry okra. Cut into quarters. Toss quartered okra with flour, onion powder, salt and pepper. Heat oil. Cook okra in hot oil without crowding, may need to do in batches depending on size of pan and amount of oil used. Watch carefully as the strips cook pretty fast, about 5-7 minutes. I almost burned mine. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with salt.
Bet you can’teat just one!
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Fried Okra Reborn.
Liz Pike blogs at Horseshoe Gardens.
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