The Young One is officially a college student and we are officially empty nesters. And Beloved is officially going crazy attempting to track down odd noises in the house, which I also hear. (For what it’s worth, I think we’re so accustomed to noises from the second floor of the house that we’re hearing things that aren’t there.) Things are still crazy busy in Sushi Land, but hopefully it will all start to wind down soon, and I can actually cook something again that is worth posting.
Now, on that note, we’ve begun harvesting the late summer crops from our garden; mostly tomatoes, but we’ve got some kale and chard ready to go – we’ve even harvested a huge spaghetti squash. But among our favorite late summer foods is – yes, we’re southern – the humble okra.
Okra probably originated somewhere around Ethiopia , and was cultivated by the ancient Egyptians as early as 1200 B.C. It came to Caribbean and the U.S. in the 1700s, probably brought by slaves from West Africa, and was introduced to Western Europe soon after. Despite the fact we treat it like a vegetable, like tomatoes, okra is really a fruit.
And a tasty, tasty fruit it is! Many people don’t like okra because of its mucilaginous quality, which is a polite way of saying that it can get “slimy” when cooked. Leaving the pods intact, such as Roasted Okra, combining it with acidic ingredients, such as tomatoes (Tomato Okra Soup) or vinegar, or long, slow cooking, such as gumbo, will often help mitigate the sliminess.
Slicing, “breading” and frying it will also keep the “slime factor” to a minimum. It will, in fact, turn the okra into a crunchy, delicious bit of heaven. When I first posted this recipe two years ago, I just used almond flour as a substitute for the traditional white flour and cornmeal; delicious, but a little on the heavy side. In this version, I replace half the almond flour with tapioca flour – it lightens up the coating, and helps keep it crisp. A little more carby, perhaps, but still considerably better than the traditional version, and every bit as tasty.
- 2 cups sliced okra
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup almond flour
- 1/2 cup tapioca flour
- 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
- 1 cup tallow or other fat suitable for frying
- Mix the almond and tapioca flours with the salt, pepper and cayenne in a shallow dish, such as a pie plate. In a small bowl, whisk the egg together with the water. Set aside.
- Melt the tallow or cooking fat in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat to a temperature of 350 F. Toss half the sliced okra in the egg wash and remove using a slotted spoon, allowing the excess to run off. Add the okra to the seasoned flour mixture and lightly toss until well coated.
- Fry the coated okra until golden brown, about 3 to 4 minutes, turning once about halfway through. Remove the okra from the fat with a spatula or slotted spoon, transferring to a paper towel lined plate to drain.
- Repeat with the remaining okra. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve immediately.
- Nutrition (per serving): 395 calories, 32.9g total fat, 74.4mg cholesterol, 492.4mg sodium, 263.8mg potassium, 19.9g carbohydrates, 3.7g fiber, 1.2g sugar, 2.7g protein