How to Cook Okra in a Pan

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Okra is rich in nutients and flavor.
Okra is rich in nutients and flavor. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Okra grows best in warmer climates and flourishes during the summer months in the Southern United States. Green in color with a fuzzy texture, okra has deep ridges running from the top to the bottom of its length of approximately 2-to-7 inches. Low in fat, calories, cholesterol and sodium, okra is also a good source of protein, fiber, potassium and vitamin C. The taste is somewhat of a cross between eggplant and asparagus. You can use and prepare it in a variety of ways such as stewing it with tomatoes, adding it to such dishes as seafood gumbo, or simply frying or sauteing it in a pan.

Things You'll Need

  • Fresh okra
  • Knife
  • Skillet
  • Vegetable oil
  • Oil thermometer
  • Large dish
  • Flour
  • Cornmeal
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Buttermilk
  • Eggs
  • Large bowl
  • Strainer spoon
  • Paper towels

Wash enough fresh okra immediately before preparation to accommodate the number of people you plan to serve. Freshly thawed prepackaged frozen okra also works well. With a sharp knife cut the okra into ½-inch circular pieces, beginning at the top and continuing to the bottom. A piece of okra that resists cutting is too tough -- you should discard it.

Mix equal quantities flour and cornmeal in a large, deep dish and season the mixture to taste with salt and pepper, red pepper flakes or a Cajun seasoning. You can also use either straight flour or cornmeal depending on which coating you prefer.

Make a “wash” of buttermilk and egg into which you will dip the okra so the breading mixture sticks to it. Alternatively, use plain buttermilk, which results in a lighter coating, or plain whisked eggs for a heavier coating.

Place the cut okra in the buttermilk and egg mixture. Use a slotted spoon to remove it from the mixture, and then dredge the okra in the breading mixture, coating it lightly.

Fill a deep stainless steel, aluminum, or enamel skillet approximately one-third to one-half full with vegetable oil. Bring the oil to a temperature of 350 degrees Fahrenheit, using an oil thermometer to measure it. The purpose of using this much oil is to deep-fry the okra, which results in an even, light golden brown crust with a smooth texture. However, for a different dish, you can saute seasoned, non-breaded okra in a lightly oiled skillet.

Carefully place the breaded okra into the hot oil. Arrange the okra in the skillet leaving plenty of space between the pieces. Cook until the okra rises to the top and is golden brown. Use a clean strainer spoon to remove the cooked okra from the oil and drain it on a paper towel. Serve while still hot.

Tips & Warnings

  • Cast iron, copper or aluminum pans will cause the okra to turn black.
  • Do not wash the okra until you are ready to use or it will become slimy.
  • Be certain to observe food safety guidelines while preparing fried okra; clean hands, sanitized workspace and utensils.

References

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