September 10, 2011

Cornmeal Fried Okra

I started picking up okra at the local farmer's market.  I knew I had a wonderful recipe in the My New Orleans cookbook (there are actually a several).  The more I page through this book the more I love it.  I had to giggle when, in the story on the side of the page, John Besh says "When I was a kid, I couldn't understand why they didn't sell fried okra in movie theaters instead of popcorn!"  What? Is he crazy?  OK, this girl loves popcorn, so I don't think fried okra could replace it.  (Sorry Chef).  Typically okra gets a bad wrap because people often think of it is a slimy vegetable, when prepared wrong that can happen.  However, when prepared correctly it has crisp flavor that might remind you a bit of a green bean.  I found a little tip that John's grandmother used to keep her okra from being slimy; she used a capful of white vinegar while it stews.  Okra is often found in gumbo and soup as thickener.

If this is your first experience with okra you may be wondering what to look for; look for smaller, green spears.  Most recipes you can substitute frozen for fresh.

1 pound okra, sliced into 1/2-inch rounds
1 cup buttermilk*
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup flour
2 teaspoons Basic Creole Spices**
1 quart canola oil

1. Puck the okra and the buttermilk into a mixing bowl and toss.

2. Whisk together the cornmeal, flour, and Creole Spices in another mixing bowl.  Lift the okra from the buttermilk and toss it in the cornmeal mixture until well coated.

3.  Heat the oil in a medium sauce pan (I used a small pot to reduce splatter) until it reaches 350 degrees on a candy thermometer. Fry okra in the oil in batches, about a third at a time, until golden brown; about 5 minutes. Remove okra from the oil with a slotted spoon or strainer and let drain on paper towels while frying the next batch.  Season with salt (I used more Creole Spices in place of salt).  Serve Hot.

This recipe makes a thinner crust, if you want a thicker crust repeat steps 1 and 2.

I served with a Creole Sauce I made
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
Dash of hot sauce (I used Sriracha) to taste
Pinch of Creole Spices

I think I will also be able to convert this recipe over to a Cornmeal Fried Pickle (that will be coming later)

*Don't have buttermilk-use 1 tsp of white vinegar, put in a 1 cup measuring cup, then fill with milk.

**Basic Creole Spices mix can be found on my blog

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