Really good southern fried okra is a lot more difficult to come by than you would think. I mean its just okra with a little flour and corn meal fried, right? How hard could it be? Well, just let me tell you the things that can go wrong. You can under cook it. Trust me, raw okra is probably not something you are going to be excited about, and cooked but not done, well, that is just slimy. Then, you can over cook it, which will at best end up as a pile of yummy but crumbly mess or at worst burnt tasting and inedible. And, odds are, if you’ve fried okra by just dusting it with a flour/cornmeal mixture, most of that mixture probably ended up at the bottom of your frying pan. So to combat this, you could try to dip it in batter. You know, kind of like that frozen stuff that has an almost removable shell on the outside and not quite done okra on the inside that southern cooks scoff at but will still eat in a pinch at a restaurant. But, this is different. The cornmeal and flour actually stick without forming a shell, which allows you to get it just done enough (inside and out) by about the time it gets nice and golden brown. The only trouble with it, is that, like many southern recipes, it is not exactly a recipe… it is more like a procedure, it just depends on how much okra you have.
Here are the ingredients you need – just not exact measurements:
okra, sliced (at least 1/2 cup serving)
buttermilk (about 1/4 cup per cup of okra)
cornmeal (about 1/4 cup per cup of okra)
all-purpose flour (about 1/4 cup per cup of okra)
salt and pepper to taste (about 1/4 tsp of each per cup of okra)
a dash or two of cayenne pepper if you like a little heat
oil for frying (I use canola oil.)
Pour the buttermilk over the okra in a bowl. Stir to mix well. You just want to coat the okra, you don’t want it floating in buttermilk. If you put too much, you can always drain it a little. After you stir the mixture, it should look very sticky and slimy. Combine the remaining ingredients in a paper bag. If you don’t have a paper bag, you can use plastic. Put the okra in the bag and shake it. If you have a lot of okra, you may need to do this in batches. I would not do more than two cups at a time. And, you will need a new cornmeal mixture each time, so divide that out accordingly. Heat about one inch of oil in a large heavy frying pan or dutch oven over medium high heat. When oil is hot, fry okra in the pan in batches until golden brown. You don’t want to overcrowd it. There should be a little space between each piece. The number of batches you will need to fry depends on the size of your pan and the amount of okra you have.