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Whole Fried Okra with Buttermilk Herb Dressing

August 14, 2012

by Elizabeth

My new favorite Dallas restaurant, Sissy’s, serves the most divine fried okra. They fry the okra whole and they aren’t even a smidge too greasy. (It doesn’t hurt that it’s served on Spode plates either.) Last week at Central Market I did something I never do – I broke from my type A planned weekly menu and grabbed some okra the second I saw them, hoping to replicate Sissy’s amazingness. I’m not sure if the breading is the same, but I did achieve perfectly crispy whole fried okra so I’ve declared my copycat recipe a success.

Whole Fried Okra, adapted from Saveur

1 quart buttermilk
5 dashes Tabasco sauce
1 lb. fresh okra, washed, stems trimmed
3 tsp. kosher salt
1 cup flour
1 cup stone-ground yellow cornmeal
½ tsp. cayenne pepper
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Canola oil

Add tabasco to buttermilk, then soak the whole okra for about ten minutes.

Mix the salt, cayenne, and pepper into the flour and cornmeal in a large bowl. Drain the okra in a colander, then coat in the cornmeal mixture. You should do this in batches, setting aside breaded okra on a parchment-lined baking sheet as you go.

Heat about an inch of oil in a heavy skillet or dutch oven. When temperature reaches 350˙ (check with a thermometer), add okra to the oil. Again, do this in batches so you don’t crowd the pan, okra should not be touching each other. Cook for about 3 minutes per batch, turning several times so that they brown on all sides. Remove with a slotted spoon when they are golden brown, and place on a paper towel lined plate or baking sheet. Serve immediately with buttermilk dressing for dipping.

Buttermilk Herb Dressing, adapted from Ina Garten

3 scallions, white and green parts, chopped
1/2 cup mixed chopped fresh basil leaves and parsley, lightly packed
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon good olive oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup good mayonnaise
1 cup plain Greek yogurt, such as Fage Total
1/2 cup buttermilk, shaken

Place the herbs, scallions, lemon, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper in the bowl of a large food processor. Puree for 20-30 seconds until you get a smooth paste. Add mayonnaise, yogurt, and buttermilk. Blend for another 30 seconds. Serve with okra, on a wedge salad, or eat it off the spoon.

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