Fried Okra

Austin American-Statesman - - FOOD & LIFE -

Veg­etable oil for fry­ing (I like to use peanut oil, but canola is fine too) 3 Tbsp. good-qual­ity stone ground corn­meal 1⁄4 cup whole wheat flour, sifted 1 tsp. sea salt 1 tsp. fresh ground pep­per 1⁄2 tsp. cayenne pep­per (or more to taste) 2 1⁄2 cups fresh okra, rinsed, stems re­moved, sliced in -inch thick rings (don’t worry if the slime starts to flow; the corn­meal mix will ab­sorb it)

Com­bine dry in­gre­di­ents in a bowl. Add okra slices and turn gen­tly un­til all pieces are coated. Set aside. Into a large heated skil­let (I like a heavy stain­less skil­let for pan-fry­ing) over medium heat, pour oil to a depth of about 1⁄4 inch. When the oil gets hot enough to siz­zle a wet piece of corn­meal, pick up a few pieces of okra in one hand, al­low loose corn­meal to fall through your fin­gers and then drop the okra into the skil­let. Re­peat un­til the skil­let bot­tom is cov­ered with a layer of okra no more than 1 inch deep. When okra pieces are well browned on one side, use a spat­ula to gen­tly turn okra to other side. Don’t stir or turn again un­til sec­ond side is well-browned. (Some of the coat­ing will fall off dur­ing fry­ing, but that’s OK; the bare okra will brown, too.) When the okra is toasty brown all over, trans­fer to a paper towel-or news­pa­per-cov­ered sur­face, in a sin­gle layer, to drain. Sprin­kle lightly with more sea salt and ground black pep­per.

To as­sem­ble salad: Com­bine onion and salad toma­toes with vinai­grette in a small mix­ing bowl and set aside to mar­i­nate. Stack the cu­cum­bers, tomato slices and peas in lay­ers on salad plates, with cukes on the bot­tom and peas on the top. Then top with hot fried okra, fol­lowed by sev­eral spoon­fuls of vinai­grette (in­clud­ing mar­i­nated onions and salad toma­toes.) Serve im­me­di­ately with hot but­tered corn­bread. (Makes enough salad for 2-3 gen­er­ous din­ner por­tions.)

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