Okra is an acquired taste and I acquired my taste for it growing up. Usually, I had it in the form of stews, soups or on the stove top simmered with tomato sauce. Since I was a kid I’ve had it in various other preparations such as pickled or fried in the Southern U.S. like in this recipe.
As I said not everyone loves okra, but it’s not that the vegetable itself tastes strangely, but it usually has more to do with the texture. Most preparations of okra can tend to be, for lack of a better word, slimy. It doesn’t bother me, but for those that don’t enjoy this texture, a good fried preparation might just turn them around.
In this recipe by using frozen okra before frying it limits the vegetable over-cooking, which therefore minimizes the somewhat slimy texture. The result is a crispy exterior and an intact interior. Combine it with some hot sauce and this side dish can easily become a regular favorite – especially when paired with barbecue.
Recipe for Okra Fried in Cornmeal with Cajun Spices
Crispy fried okra breaded in cornmeal.
- 16 oz. or 1 pound of sliced okra (sliced frozen okra works great!)
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1/8 cup of all purpose flour
- 1 cup of cornmeal
- 1/4 teaspoon Cajun spices
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 cup of canola or vegetable oil (or however much needed to fry)
- Salt to taste
- Large mixing bowl
- 2 small bowls
- 2 large plates
- Paper towels
- Slotted spatula/spoon or spider spatula
- Medium pot, deep frying pan, or fryolator
- If you’re using fresh, whole okra, then cut them into roughly 1-inch thick pieces to create rings. Place them in a bowl and keep them cold in the fridge or even freeze them until ready to use. Frozen okra works especially well because using it while frozen helps to keep the okra inside from overcooking and the sliminess of the okra itself is minimized.
- In a bowl, beat two eggs and add the 1/2 teaspoon of onion powder and the 1/4 teaspoon of cajun seasoning,
- In another bowl add a cup of cornmeal.
- Before starting to bread the okra, start getting your oil up to 350 degrees F. A fryolator is best to maintain temp and cook evenly without too much grease, but a sauce pot or deep frying pan will also work well. Is using a stovetop and you don’t have a thermometer, the medium setting is roughly around the temp you need. Wait for the oil to start shimmering before adding the first batch. If you’d rather wait, you can bread the okra first before preparing the oil, but just don’t wait too long.
- Slowly add 1/8 cup of flour to the bowl of okra and mix or toss together the okra until all of the pieces are covered with flour.
- The slower, better, and more controlled method is to dip a few pieces of okra in the egg wash before breading in cornmeal. On the other hand if you’re in a rush, you can get away with mixing all of the egg wash into the bowl of floured okra. Just be sure to work quickly after that so that the okra doesn’t start sticking together and also remove any excess flour at the bottom of the bowl before adding the egg.
- This next part is slow, but worth it. Don’t take a short cut here. Take a few pieces of okra at a time and toss them thoroughly in the cup of cornmeal until well covered. Then remove them to a plate with as little stacking of okra as possible. Repeat the process for all of the okra. I cannot stress it enough that you should not just add the cornmeal to the big bowl of okra, flour, and egg wash (if you went that route). If you do, you’ll end up with a gummy mess instead of nicely coated individual pieces of okra.
- Once all the okra is breaded, start frying in small batches. You may end up frying 1 pound of okra in roughly 4 – 6 batches depending on how much room you have. Each batch will take approximately 4 or 5 minutes to get to a nice golden color. Be careful not to overcook the okra or it will get mushy. The key is to have a crispy outside, but still maintain a structurally sound interior. That’s why using frozen okra works so well.
- When each batch is done, remove the okra and place it aside on a large plate lined with paper towels. Lightly salt each batch and push the finished okra to the side when pouring out a hot batch of fried okra. This helps keep each batch crispy rather than steaming all together. Serve immediately with your favorite hot sauce. The okra is great even cold, but it’s best when warm.
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