A note to okra haters: Even you will love fried okra. You won't find any of the slime often associated with the summertime vegetable, just fried mouth-poppin' goodness. I can't pass it up when I see it on a menu, but it's also easy to make at home. This recipe from the The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook, doesn't veer from the standard preparation.
- Crispy Fried Okra:
- 4 cups peanut or canola oil
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 3/4 cup whole milk
- 2 cups stone-ground cornmeal
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 2 pounds fresh okra, sliced into 16-inch-thick rounds (about 7 cups)
- Crushed red pepper flakes to taste (optional)
- Sea salt to taste (optional)
- Pepper Vinegar:
- 1 cup white wine vinegar
- 2 Thai, serrano or bird's eye chiles, fresh or dried
Preheat the oven to 225 degrees.
Heat the oil in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet or a 3-quart enameled cast-iron casserole until the temperature on a candy thermometer reads 375 degrees.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk until they are well combined, about 1 minute. In a medium bowl, sift the cornmeal, flour, salt, and pepper together twice. Add the okra to the egg mixture and toss until it is evenly coated. Scatter half the dredge over the okra and toss to coat. Scatter the remaining dredge over the okra and toss again.
Transfer about one-third of the okra to the oil with a slotted spoon and fry in batches, turning as necessary with the spoon, until the slices are golden brown all over, about 2 minutes per batch.
Using the slotted spoon, transfer the okra to a plate lined with a double thickness of paper towels. When it has drained, transfer to a ceramic serving dish that holds heat well and place in the oven until ready to serve.
Dust the okra with red pepper flakes and sea salt, if desired, and pass a cruet of Pepper Vinegar around the table when you serve.
For the Pepper Vinegar: With a funnel, pour the vinegar into a cruet. Add the chiles and use a chopstick or the handle of a wooden spoon to submerge them, if necessary. Cap the cruet and place it in the refrigerator. The vinegar will be well infused in 24 hours and will keep for months in the refrigerator.