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September 5, 2007

Not Your Mama's "Fried" Okra

"Fried" Okra

Fried okra is one of those quintessential Southern foods that automatically makes you think good, not to mention heavy and fat laden, but it doesn't have to be that way. Growing up in Tennessee it was amazing the many different ways that I had this dish. Some people dipped the okra in batter and then deep fried it, others fried it up in a pan with bacon fat or lard. My mom's method of cooking was pan fried in melted shortening, but regardless of how it was made and no matter how good it tasted you could bet it was heavy as all get out!

When we moved to Maryland it obviously became harder to find okra as it's more of a southern crop. I finally found a local farm owned by some older folks who grew it and that is where I picked it up, that was until last summer. Last summer, and I'm not sure why, the local farm closed and I think it's because the couple became too old to farm the land. They were the sweetest little couple. The gentleman reminded me of my grandfather, but I digress.

Anyway, I could occasionally find okra at Whole Foods and once in a blue moon it would show up at my local Giant store, but it was definitely harder to find. At the Farmer's Market on Saturday one of the vendors had okra and I was excited to see it as I hadn't seen it all summer! Over the years my sister and I have slimmed down the "fried" okra and substituted the healthy fat of olive oil, for the heavier unhealthy fats and/or trans fats. You still "fry" it, but you use a lot less frying medium and as I mentioned that medium is healthier too.

Oh and it's easy to make to boot! That's always an added plus! If you like okra, then you'll love this!

What You'll Need Per Cup of Okra:
Okra, sliced
1/4-1/3 cup of corn meal
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
1/4 teaspoon of black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil

Preheat a large pan over medium heat with a thin layer of olive oil (just enough to coat the bottom of the pan).

In a bowl mix corn meal, sea salt and black pepper. Add okra and toss to coat.

Okra Ready to Cook

Add prepared okra to the preheated pan and cook stirring occasionally until golden brown. Serve immediately.

Notes: You can also use this method for zucchini, squash or green tomato slices.

Posted by Dianne at September 5, 2007 7:23 AM

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I love Okra. I bought some after I saw it on your site the other day. I can sometimes find breaded Okra in the freezer section (here in Cali) but I saw a recipe in Saveur Magazine from Greece where they let orka sit in the hot Mediterranean sun with olive oil and sea salt.

I started slow roasting Orka in the oven by drizzling it in olive oil, sea salt and cracked black pepper ... Man is it good ...

Posted by: Qusan at September 5, 2007 11:19 AM

My dad is absolutely crazy for okra, Dianne - he'd eat this and ask for seconds!

Posted by: Patricia Scarpin at September 5, 2007 11:26 AM

I've done that in the oven before too! It's delicious!

My whole family loves it. I like it in soup too, especially when you want a stew like consistency.

Posted by: Dianne at September 5, 2007 11:27 AM

I like it in the oven too. That's the way my mom does it. She oven bakes it with the meal coating on it, and turns it ever few minutes.

Of course, we like it pickled too. Ethan can eat a whole jar in one sitting.

Posted by: Dar at September 6, 2007 3:15 PM

I don't think I've ever had pickled okra. Come to think of it I don't think I've ever even heard of it. Is it a sweet pickled dish or more like dill pickles?

Posted by: Dianne at September 6, 2007 3:37 PM

dill. Mom put a clove of galic in the bottom of hers.

Posted by: Dar at September 10, 2007 2:34 PM

Interesting. I like dill pickles, but I'm not a fan of sweet pickles. Though I do like sweet pickle relish in potato or tuna salads.

Posted by: Dianne at September 10, 2007 3:41 PM

me too, and apparently I couldn't spell for sh~~! Yesterday! Galic =Garlic. UGG!

Posted by: Dar at September 12, 2007 9:29 AM

I knew what you meant! ;o)

Posted by: Dianne at September 12, 2007 9:34 AM

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