Oh wow okra, yessiree,
Okra is Okay with me.
Oh okra’s favored far and wide,
Oh you can eat it boiled or fried,
Oh either slick or crisp inside,
Oh I once knew a man who died
— Roy Blount, Jr.
Another birthday has come and gone. So has my annual fried okra binge. In recent years I went old school with my pod feast. This year, I opted for the crunchy golden version. It’s quite a dandy.
Buttermilk Fried Okra
2 lbs – Fresh Okra
1½ cups – Buttermilk
1 cup – Cornmeal
1 cup – All-purpose flour
2 TB – Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3-4 slices – Bacon or 1/4 lb salt pork (optional)
Slice okra in half, lengthwise, or into half-inch chunks (pictured). Remove stem.
Place sliced okra into a large plastic bowl. Season generously with salt (I use Kosher salt). Add pepper to taste. Toss until all pieces are coated with spices. Allow to sit for a few minutes. Add buttermilk and toss to coat.
Meanwhile, add an inch of oil to the bottom of a cast-iron (or other) skillet. Add bacon/salt pork. Heat on medium setting (use slightly higher heat setting with skillets made of stainless steel and other materials). When the bacon/salt pork begins to sizzle nicely, the oil is hot enough. Remove the meat from the oil before frying the okra. Discard it; give it to the dogs; or eat it (like I do).
Combine cornmeal and flour in large bowl. In small batches, toss buttermilk-coated okra in breading mixture. When oil is just beginning to smoke, add okra, using your fingers to avoid surplus cornmeal from making its way to the skillet. Fry okra for about 8-10 minutes, turning occasionally for even browning. Drain on paper towel-lined plate. Season to taste.
Makes a nice side dish for a family of five, or an entire meal for me (even at age 44) — on my birthday.