It’s easy to learn how to make fried okra. Fresh, sliced okra is dipped in a mixture of eggs, milk, and hot sauce, then dredged in cornmeal and fried to golden brown.
Last fall, as my best friend and I caught up over two giant sized Gigi cupcakes, she slid her copy of The Help across the table and told me I needed to read it. With a full-time job, full-time husband, and a baby that was two months old at the time, I have next to zero time to read a book. But once I cracked the cover and read the first page, I was hooked. I found a shady spot in back corner of the parking lot of an office building down the street and that’s where I would go every day on my lunch break. For an hour I was transported back to 1962.
When I finished the book, I shared it with my mom, who loved it just as much as my best friend and I did. Friday night the three of us left the boys at home and went to see the movie. Because the movie is about Jackson, I knew it would be highly anticipated. As we walked up to the box office, I noticed a sign hanging in the window that read: The Help; 7 o’clock show, SOLD OUT!
Thankfully I had pre-ordered tickets online.
When we opened the glass doors to the theater, we were greeted by a blast of cold air and a line trailing around the concession stand. Dozens of women just like us – mothers, daughters, friends, sisters – some who had read the book and a few who hadn’t, anxiously clutching their tickets and craning their necks to see if the line was starting to move.
“I think the ticket taker is going to end up with a paper cut tonight,” my best friend said.
No surprise the theater was packed, but luckily we were able to get three seats together. The previews went on for what seemed like an E-T-E-R-N-I-T-Y.
But finally, there we were, sitting in Aibileen’s tiny kitchen, watching her dry dishes as she reveals what it’s like raising white babies before growing quiet as she notices her son’s picture hanging on the wall and mournfully turning her eyes out the window. The movie is heartwarming and bittersweet, hysterical and infuriating.
It will also make you hungry.
Food is such an integral part of Southern culture, it’s no wonder it has a supporting role in the movie. There is a constant parade of fried chicken, sweet tea, pies, deviled eggs, and okra. Okra is often used as a thickener in soups and gumbo, but my favorite way to eat it is dipped in egg, battered in cornmeal and fried to a crispy golden brown.
How to Make Fried Okra
Start by heating some vegetable or canola oil in a large skillet. I like to use cast iron for frying. While the oil is heading, cut up your fresh okra into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.
Next, set up an assembly line. I like to mix my eggs, milk and hot sauce in one 8 x 8 casserole dish. My cornmeal in another. Coat the sliced okra in the egg mixture. Then dredge it in the cornmeal. Working in batches, fry the coated okra in the hot oil until the cornmeal coating starts to turn golden brown.
Drain the fried cornmeal on paper towels. Season with salt. Repeat with the remaining okra. I like to serve my fried okra with a little comeback sauce for dipping.
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- 2 eggs well beaten
- 2-3 dashes hot sauce
- 1/3 cup milk
- 3 cups sliced okra
- 2-3 cups self-rising white cornmeal
- Vegetable oil for frying
- Combine combine eggs, hot sauce, and milk in a large bowl. Pour cornmeal into a separate bowl.
- Coat sliced okra in the egg mixture, then coat with cornmeal.
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Reduce heat to medium. Add okra, frying in batches, until golden brown, about 2-4 minutes.
- Drain on paper towels. Season with additional salt if desired.