Fried Red Okra

by - August 15, 2015

At my kids' soccer practice this morning, a good friend was relating to me how she picked and roasted okra, and I had to stop her mid-story to inform her that fried okra is the only way to do okra. She will likely live a longer, more mobile, more healthily radiant life than myself. I know other people have their own okra preferences, but the only way I eat okra is fried. Beyond only eating it fried, it has to be crispy throughout. I don't like fried okra with thick breading and a slimy interior. If you like that, go to K&W or Morrison's Cafeteria or Piccadilly (are those places still in Chattanooga?) and eat all you like, but I won't cook it that way for you.

As you scroll through the pictures, you may ask, "Wait, I thought okra was green?" To which I respond, "Yes, green or red unless you are colorblind, in which case you can't tell the difference." Red okra turns green when it cooks. 

The key to getting it crispy throughout is slicing it thin (I measured mine to be 3/8" - 1/4"), and not cooking it too fast. If you have the heat up too high, the outside will cook too quickly and you will have a sad plate of bad tasting and still slimy okra.

In case you are wondering if freezing the breaded okra before cooking it still produces good results, it does! The only trouble I run into is that pieces will sometimes get frozen together and need to be split apart while cooking to ensure crispiness.

Another note, I used to not sift out the excess flour in a colander, and this created a nasty burned layer on the bottom of the pan that ruined the flavor of the okra. I'm actually very proud of myself for figuring this out last week, only 10 years into my okra-cooking experience.

Here's what you need:
  • 15 - 20 pieces of okra or about 12 oz. I say this because this is what my garden gives me every other day.
  • 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour
  • salt
  • cutting board, knife, tupperware, frying pan, large plate, paper towel
  • If you want to store your breaded, uncooked okra in the freezer, you will need a quart freezer ziplock.

Prep:
  • Rinse okra in the colander.
  • Slice okra into 3/8" - 1/4" pieces.
  • Put 1/4 cup of flour into the tupperware. Don't do the okra first, it's super slimy and will stick. Don't wash off that slime either. The slime it what makes the flour stick.
  • Put in okra slices on top of flour. 
  • Put the lid on and shake it up for several minutes until it seems no more flour will stick to the slices. 
  • Over the sink, dump the floured okra back into the (dried) colander and shake out the excess flour.
  • If you are freezing it for later, scoop it into your freezer bag, and don't forget to include those seeds that got loose. They were my favorite as a kid!

Fry:
  • Using your favorite oil -- I stick to Canola or vegetable oil -- cover the inside of a large frying pan. Try to get a pan large enough so there will be a single layer of okra pieces in the pan. I use a 10" or 12" pan.
  • Heat the oil on medium-high and then turn it down to medium, and while you are waiting, put a paper towel on top of the large plate.
  • Put the okra into the hot pan and let it fry until the bottom sides start turning golden. Don't mess with them too much or you will knock off the flour. Sometimes if it seems the okra soaks up too much oil so that it doesn't reach the sides of the pan, I add a little extra. You don't want them floating in the oil, but you want them all to have access to it.
  • Flip over the okra -- it's tricky to get them all flip to the same side -- and let the other side sizzle 'till golden.
  • Using the spatula, scoop them out onto the paper towel.
  • Sprinkle the salt to taste.
  • Try your hardest to let the cool some before consuming.

It's okra. It's red.
Try to keep uniform thickness for uniform cooking.

1/4 cup is just enough. I measured for this post, and I never measure.
Shake shake shake.

Floured.

Sifted.

Future crispy golden nuggets. Don't cheat yourself of this treasure.

Option 1: freeze in bag. Don't refrigerate unless you want a gummy mess. DON'T REFRIGERATE

Option 2: Fry now

Enjoy!

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