While some plants wilt in the seemingly intolerable heat and humidity of a Southern summer, unable to make it under the blistering sun and stuffy humidity, okra doesn’t just thrive, but seems to revel in the weather, growing ever taller as the thermometer spikes. Okra, an important member of the canon of Southern foods, is delicious when it’s fried, stewed, sautéed, or roasted. One of the more traditional (and our favorite) ways to cook okra is to slice it and fry it in cornmeal. This simple, six-ingredient recipe takes just half an hour to prepare, but it’ll add something special to any supper. For the best results, choose fresh okra pods no longer than 4 inches in length. Depending on the variety, if the pods are much longer they are going to be tough and woody, which is never ideal. You simply heat the oil in the skillet and add the okra, stirring to coat. Sprinkle okra with salt and pepper and, as the okra fries, sprinkle it with the cornmeal. It’s a no-nonsense process fitting for this simple dish. This quick recipe calls for you to use two skillets, so the okra will have room to cook up extra crispy. But you can also cook two batches in one skillet, just make sure the oil in the second batch gets nice and hot before adding the okra.
6 tablespoons canola oil, divided
2 pounds fresh okra, stems trimmed, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
2/3 cup fine yellow cornmeal
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
How to Make It
Place 1 1/2 tablespoons of the canola oil in each of 2 medium-size nonstick skillets, and heat over medium-high. Divide okra between skillets, and stir to coat. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until bright green, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle okra in each skillet with 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Divide yellow cornmeal and cayenne pepper evenly between skillets; stir to coat. Drizzle 1 1/2 tablespoons oil over mixture in each skillet, and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until okra is tender and browned, about 6 minutes.