Fried okra is a dynamite side dish for all sorts of entrées like barbecue, but it’s as addictive as popcorn, so we often pass it during cocktail hour as a snack. Keep the fried okra warm in the oven in an uncovered earthenware dish. When the first guests arrive, fill a few butcher-paper or newspaper cones with the okra, shake some chile flakes and sea salt over them, and pass the cones around while the guests are tucking into their cocktails. Pass a cruet of peppered vinegar around when you serve the okra.–Matt Lee and Ted Lee
LC Fresh, Not Frozen Note
Don’t try this with frozen, thawed okra. Uh uh. Just don’t go there. Trust us.
Crispy Fried Okra
Serves 6 as sides
Special Equipment: Deep-fry or candy or instant-read thermometer
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Preheat the oven to 225°F (104°C).
Heat the oil in a cast-iron skillet or a 3-quart enameled cast-iron casserole until the temperature on a deep-fry or candy or instant-read thermometer reads 375°F (190°C).
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk until well combined, about 1 minute. In a medium bowl, sift the cornmeal, flour, salt, and black pepper together twice. Add the okra to the egg mixture and toss until it is evenly coated. Scatter half the dredge over the okra and toss to coat. Scatter the remaining dredge over the okra and toss again.
Transfer about 1/3 of the okra to the oil with a slotted spoon and fry in batches, turning as necessary with the spoon, until the slices are golden brown all over, about 2 minutes per batch.
Using the slotted spoon, transfer the fried okra to a plate lined with a double thickness of paper towels. When it has drained, transfer to a ceramic serving dish that holds heat well and place in the oven until ready to serve.
Dust the fried okra with the red pepper flakes and sea salt, if desired.
Crispy Fried Okra Recipe © 2006 Martens Maxwell, Inc. Photo © 2006 Ted Lee. All rights reserved. All materials used with permission.