26 July 2008

Okra originated in West Africa. In the 1700s, seeds were brought to the United States and the Caribbean by slaves, who roasted them to make a coffee substitute. The seeds also were planted, and okra soon became popular throughout the South.

Today, okra is grown around the world, and recipes using it have an international flavor. It goes into spicy Indian curries and Asian stir-fries. Greek and Middle-Eastern cooks simmer it with olive oil and tomatoes. Brazilians marinate lightly cooked slices in a spicy vinaigrette.

Southern Fried Okra
1 pound fresh okra
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Vegetable oil

1. Wash and slice okra; pat dry with paper towels.
2. Combine eggs and buttermilk; add okra, and let stand for 10 minutes.
3. Combine flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt and pepper.
4. Drain okra, small portions at a time, using a slotted spoon.
5. Dredge okra, small portions at a time, in flour mixture.
6. Pour oil to depth of 2 to 3-inches in a Dutch oven of deep-fat fryer and heat to 375 degrees.
7. Fry okra until golden brown.
8. Drain on paper towels and serve immediately.
Makes 4 servings.

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