Cook the Book: Fried Okra

Cook the Book: Fried Okra

"I powered through a bowl of these little guys in no time at all."

[Photograph: Caroline Russock]

I've always thought of okra as one of the cuter vegetables, with its fuzzy little ridged pods and almost cap-like stem. But as adorable as okra is, some folks find it off-putting due to its tendency to become slimy when cooked.

This recipe for Fried Okra from Mary Mac's Tea Room by John Ferrell is a wonderful way to convert the okra-averse since the quick-fry leaves the okra soft with an amazingly crisp crust. It's even more addictive than a plate of fries.

This is a fun deep-frying project that's relatively mess-free as well. The okra is cut into small pieces, dipped in a buttermilk-egg mixture, then tossed in a seasoned combination of flour and cracker crumbs, limiting sticky fingers and unwanted counter drippage.

The okra fries for just a few minutes until the coating is golden-brown and puffed up. I tasted a piece to check for seasoning but the salt and white pepper in the coating proved to be spot-on—just salty enough, with a nice peppery punch.

The coating adhered to the little okra and was perfectly crisp. The insides were cooked to the point of softness but not sliminess. I powered through a bowl of these little guys in no time at all, marveling the whole time that it's possible for something deep-fried to taste light and even summery.

Win Mary Mac's Tea Room

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Mary Mac's Tea Room to give away this week.

  • Yield:4 to 6


  • 2 cups vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup fine cracker crumbs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 pound okra, stemmed and sliced into 1/4-inch pieces


  1. 1.

    Line a plate with paper towels and set aside.

  2. 2.

    Heat the oil to 350˚F in a deep-fryer or deep, heavy skillet. Whisk together the egg, water, and buttermilk in a small bowl. In a paper bag, combine the flour, cracker crumbs, salt, and pepper.

  3. 3.

    Dip the okra into the buttermilk mixture, using a slotted spoon. Place the okra in the bag and shake until well coated. With another slotted spoon, remove the okra from the bag, shake gently to remove the excess flour, and place on a rack.

  4. 4.

    Fry the okra in the hot oil in batches until deep golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain on the plate, sprinkle with additional salt, if desired, and serve immediately.