Learning how to make fried okra isn't complicated and is a great way to enjoy the nutritional benefits of okra in a delicious vegetarian recipe. Okra fried in a healthy cooking oil such as olive, canola, sunflower or peanut, is low in fats and will boost the amount of fiber, vitamins C and K, and the level of folates in the body. Containing no saturated fats or cholesterol, okra due to its fiber and mucus content will actually help to flush bad fats and toxins from the digestive system. Many fried okra recipes call for heavy batters or breadings, this recipe does not and is simple, calling only for basic kitchen ingredients.
Frying okra is best done using fresh, small, okra pods between 3 to 5 inches long. When buying okra at the store or farmer's market, check that the pods are bright green, without blemishes, and are not soft. Of course it is always possible to get fresh okra from the garden as it is easy to grow and harvest. Okra is a hot weather crop and will bear from midsummer through to the first cool days of fall. It will start producing tender pods when only two ft. tall, reaching a height of over 6 ft. without pruning, making picking okra an easy job on the back.
To prepare okra for frying first wash the pods and then using a small, sharp knife, cut off the top cap ends and the tips. Slice the middle sections into 1/2 inch thick rounds and place them in a small bowl. The slime will make the okra naturally sticky so the coating will adhere to the slices without any egg wash. This slime is good for the digestive system as it coats the stomach, counteracts acids, and aids in waste elimination. Don't remove the soft seeds as they are edible and full of nutrients.
Next get the oil hot before doing anything else to the okra. Place a thin layer of cooking oil in a skillet and heat it to a medium high heat. Test the oil by placing one of the okra slices in the hot oil and see if it starts sizzling. You don't want a deep layer of oil and you don't want it too hot with the oil popping all over the place or the okra will scorch.
In a separate bowl make a mixture of plain flour, salt, and pepper while the hot is getting hot. Use 1/2 cup of flour, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper, to each 2 cups of okra slices. Pour the flour mixture over the okra slices and toss them well with a fork to get them all coated.
For frying okra in a healthy way you want it to cook slowly to a crisp texture and not deep fry it. Once the oil is hot pour enough okra in the skillet to make a single layer of the round slices. Cover and let fry for 10 to 15 minutes or until nice and brown on the lower side. Use a spatula to turn the okra over to the other side and cook for another 8 to 10 minutes.
Remove the fried okra to a paper covered plate to wick away any excess oil. Serve immediately while still hot, with some fresh tomato slices and a nice glass of sweet ice tea. Soon you will have others asking you - how to make fried okra. If you prefer okra that is battered or has a thick breading, use some thinned down corn bread mix or dip the slices in some buttermilk or an egg wash before coating them. You have to be careful when frying okra that has a thick coating. If you try to turn it before the coating is well browned, it will fall off the okra slices.