Nicole A. Taylor presents Southern recipes for all in The Up South Cookbook (Countryman Press, 2015). Combining all the home-cooked goodness of traditional Southern food with the international flavors of her Brooklyn neighbors, Taylor’s recipes honor tradition while reinterpreting the classics. The following recipe for fried okra is from “Greens and More.”
“Keep living and you’ll end up eating a lot of things,” says my mother. Hello, okra, my new friend. You were never in my rotation but now we hang out. I like your tenderness and how you fry up.
• 2 cups chopped okra (about 1 pound)
• 3/4 cup buttermilk
• 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
• 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
• 1/2 cup fine cornmeal
• 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
• 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
• 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
• 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
• 1-1/2 cups sunflower oil
1. Gently rub any dirt off okra. Cut into 1/2-inch pieces, discard hard stem.
2. Pour buttermilk in a shallow bowl, add the okra and soak for 15 minutes.
3. Combine the salt, pepper, cornmeal, flour, onion powder, smoked paprika, and red pepper flakes in a large bowl. Whisk together well.
4. Toss buttermilk-soaked okra in cornmeal mixture. Using a spider strainer or slotted spoon, shake off excess cornmeal.
5. Place oil in a 12-inch skillet over high heat. Insert an instant-read thermometer in oil. When the temperature reaches 350 degrees F, the okra is ready for the skillet.
6. Carefully drop okra in the oil (work in batches). Cook about a minute and flip over, until golden brown. Remember to let the oil reach the 350 degree F mark before dropping more okra, and don’t crowd the pan.
7. Transfer to baking sheet with cooling rack on top. Sprinkle with more salt, if desired.
Let’s talk okra. If you’ve never witnessed them growing from seed to pod, it’s something beautiful. Gorgeous flowers grow right beside the vegetable and can be used to thicken soup or simply fried. The inside anatomy of okra is often used as stencils or stamps: artful food.
More from The Up South Cookbook:
Reprinted with permission from The Up South Cookbook by Nicole A. Taylor and published by Countryman Press, 2015.