Southerners love fried okra. But do you know the history of this garden favorite?
Okra is an old plant, first grown in Ethiopia and brought to America with the slave trade. It became a fixture of southern cooking, whether lightly simmered, pickled or fried. Just look at backyard gardens across the South, and you’ll see okra.
It’s grown for its beauty and pale-yellow flowers, which resemble hibiscus (it’s actually a member of the hibiscus family). But mostly it is grown in the anticipation of crispy, cornmeal-dredged fried okra!
Our Southern Okra Breading makes the ritual of frying summer okra quite easy. Made from our stone-ground white cornmeal, this breading – and some oil – are all you need to fry okra, plain and simple.
And that’s the secret to the best fried okra – keep it simple.
Southern Fried Okra
- Prep Time: 10-15 minutes
- Total Time: 10-15 minutes
- Yield: 4 servings 1x
- 12 ounces fresh okra
- 1 cup The Old Mill Southern Okra Breading
- Vegetable oil for frying
- Slice the okra as desired. You can slice off and remove the tough top cap, and then cut the okra on the diagonal into slices. Or, you can slice vertically through the entire okra pod, creating two long halves. (This method is best with tender, fresh, small okra.)
- Fresh okra has its own natural juices, and these will help the breading cling to it while frying. But if the okra is dry, rinse it lightly with water. Place the sliced okra in a large bowl and pour the breading over it. Toss to coat with the breading, using clean hands or a rubber spatula.
- Place enough oil in a large, heavy pot or skillet to measure 1 to 2 inches deep. Heat the oil to 350 degrees.
- Add a handful of okra at a time to the oil, picking up the okra with clean hands and letting the excess breading fall from your fingers back into the bowl.
- Fry, turning as needed, until the okra is golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain on paper towels or on a rack set over a baking pan.
- Keep warm in a 200-degree oven, if desired, and repeat with the remaining okra until all has been fried.
Fried Dill Pickles: Use the method above to fry 1 cup drained dill pickle slices, using 1/2 cup Southern Okra Breading. Fry 1 to 2 minutes and serve with Ranch dressing.
Fried Mushrooms: Clean and slice 8 ounces mushrooms in half. Dip the halves in a beaten egg, and dredge in 1 cup of Southern Okra Breading. Fry 2 minutes, or until golden.