The Slowcook at Spydog Farm The Slowcook at Spydog Farm

Fried Okra, Eggplant And Green Tomato

September 21st, 2009 · 4 Comments · Posted in garden, Recipes

Okra fry, lowcountry style

Okra fry, lowcountry style

I normally don’t require a recipe to fry my okra. But I took a cruise through my cookbook library to consider my options and ran across this intriguing entry from Hoppin’ John’s Lowcountry Cooking. The so-called lowcountry refers to the area around Charleston, South Carolina, and its coastal plain. It boasts it’s own culture and traditional cuisine. Since I’ve never had the pleasure of a visit, I mostly just love to read about how they treat their shrimp and grits, red rice, blue crab, blood pudding and such. If anyone had a sure-fire method of frying okra, I figured Hoppin’ John would.

In the lowcountry, eggplant is referred to as “Guinea squash.” Whatever you call it, I had some odd pieces from my recent garden cleanup, as well as a prodigeous amount of okra and the remains of our green tomatoes, dwindling after a week of making preserves. In fact, this turned out to be the perfect thing for the vegetables I have on hand this time of year.

 There’s not much of a recipe here. Hoppin’ John’s version consists of just two paragraphs of description, no precise quantities given. So I’ll simply paraphrase.

Cut a big handful of okra pods, a small eggplant and a couple of green tomatoes into pieces. I like to slice the okra on an angle, and I used the biggest pods I had that hadn’t gotten tough yet. Place these in a bowl of ice water for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, pour a cup or more of white corn meal (Hoppin’ John calls for “corn flour”) in a large mixing bowl and season to taste with salt and black pepper. Use a deep fryer, a heavy skillet or Dutch oven to bring your frying oil up to around 360 degrees. (Remember, never fill your pot more than halfway to avoid a boil-over. The oil will be hot enough when a piece of bread dropping into it causes rapid bubbling.)

Use a Chinese strainer or some other device to lift a batch of vegetables out of the ice water. Toss the ice cubes back in the bowl and drop the vegetables into the corn meal. Toss until they are very well coated, then lower them into the hot oil. Cook until lightly browned.

I think you’ll agree that the combination of okra, eggplant and green tomato in this fry is a stroke of genius. The tartness of the tomatoes does a great job of perking up the more benign flavors of the okra and eggplant, and you’ve got that salty crust all over everything. It’s not exactly on my carb-restricted diet, and I’m seeing the results on my bathroom scale. But I am willing to make the sacrifice. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been anyone else around to help me eat it. So I’m eating my lowcountry fry for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

To re-heat, just crisp it up in a 350-degree oven. Try it next to fried eggs.

You may be wondering why the vegetables need to soak in ice water before frying. Me too. I have no idea. If you know, please send us a line.

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  • aimeeday1972

    Sounds delightful. I’m one of the few okra-fanciers I know, out here in the Pacific Northwest, far from okra’s home turf. We can’t grow it even if we want to. But I did buy several pounds for my favorite okra application: hot okra pickles.
    This is a fantastic site, by the way. Just stumbled over from Crunchy Chicken. Thanks!

  • Ed Bruske

    Aimee, so glad you could stumble by. Sorry you are okra-deprived up there in the Northwest (my birthplace, incidentally). On the other hand, you have fresh salmon and orca whales. Not bad.

  • FoodRenegade

    The cold water is mostly for the okra. It helps take away some of the slimy texture that would be unsuitable for a good, crisp fry.

    I think this combination sounds lovely.

    (AKA FoodRenegade)

  • Ed Bruske

    Kristen, interesting theory. But if okra were the sole issue, why would the recipe call for chilling all of the vegetables, the eggplant and green tomato as well. I’ve fried okra without chilling it and never had a problem with slime. I’m wondering if the premise might not be that chilled vegetables stand up to frying better. I’m not sure any of it makes sense.