What Kind of Mother Doesn’t Fry Okra?

September 19, 2012


Every now and then, you just need a little treat.  Sometimes you’ve had a hard day, or you may have accomplished a major goal.  Perhaps you made an A+ on a difficult test.  I tend to reward myself with something from Page and Palette, but my children go for ice cream at Mr. Gene’s Beans.

So earlier this week, when my son completed a major task with flying colors,  (if I say so myself)  I said, “Name your treat”, and was caught off guard when he requested, “Fried okra!”

Okra - Leslie Anne Tarabella

Not the first thing most kids back on the playground would wish for.

I actually tried to talk him into the ice cream, but he wanted the okra.  Ice cream only takes five minutes to run in and get, but fried okra takes – forever.

Cutting it up, dipping it, breading it, frying it, draining it . . .  and then the entire stove is covered with little grease marks. If you haven’t ruined your shirt – exactly where the apron doesn’t cover, you’ll have hot popping grease land on your arm.   I like fried fish and chicken too, but rarely make it at home because of the same hassles.

Fried Okra - Leslie Anne Tarabella
A mess of okra in the cast iron skillet. Literally.
I know, there’s too much in there.  Use smaller batches.

I’m not lazy, just efficient with my time. (if I used smiley faces, one would go here.) Oh, and I also hate to clean the kitchen.

Grandmother fried okra at almost every summer meal, which at her house was “dinner” and “supper.” Her kitchen never seemed to be messy in the least, but when I fry something, it gets everywhere. Paula Deen has a built in fryer which would be both a dream and temptation.  My Daddy has an outdoor deep fryer for fish and turkeys, as do many Southern men, who only cook if there is an element of danger, hence the giant, outdoor cauldron of boiling oil.

Fried Okra - from Leslie Anne Tarabella
The finished product.  Mmm Mmm!

But when your sweet child wants fried okra, you fry the okra. I mean, when he grows up, I don’t want him telling his wife I wouldn’t fry okra for him.  What kind of mother is that?

I figured I was overdue cooking up a good batch, so I forged ahead, and if I say so myself, it turned out de-lic-ious!!! Clean up was a predictable pain in the neck, but it was well worth the effort.  The summer veggie was so good, crunchy on the outside, and tender on the inside.

I know at least two of my friends who read this who have never cooked fried okra, and one has never eaten it. Amazing we’re friends, right?  So just for those two, here’s the recipe:

Fried Okra

After washing approx. 1 pound of fresh okra, cut into bite-size round pieces, discarding tips.  Mix together 2 eggs in a bowl.  Add okra pieces and stir to coat.  (some people add a dash of Tabasco to the eggs.) 

In a shallow dish, mix together 1 cup of cornmeal, 1/2 cup all purpose flour, salt and pepper to taste. Plop the okra pieces into the cornmeal mixture in small batches and toss to coat. 

Heat vegetable oil in deep pan (between 370° and 375°).  My Mom showed me the trick of placing a kernel of popcorn in the oil.  When it pops – it’s ready!  Fry the okra, turning until lightly brown and cooked through.  Drain on paper towels and serve while hot. 

Consider yourself rewarded for a job well done!


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