Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Cajun Spiced Fried Okra

My father was from Virginia, which is considered a partially Southern state. But he was born in Alabama, so that makes him a legitimate Southerner. So, when I wasn't having Chinese food, or going out for Mexican, he would encourage me to make him some of his favorite Southern dishes.  One of the things he really enjoyed was Fried Okra. For those of you who dislike Okra's mucilaginous interior, frying them makes them crisp and delectable with no slime!  They taste something like Fried Zucchini, only better. He liked things a bit spicy, so I learned to add some spices to the traditional cornmeal and salt coating and ended up discovering how to make a basic Cajun Seasoning Mix. It's a simple combination of Garlic and Onion Powder, some Paprika, Cayenne and a little Oregano and Thyme.  It creates quite a magical little seasoning mix that I find useful for lots of other dishes too, but if you are feeling lazy, you can always use about teaspoon or more of Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning Mix instead. 

The okra doesn't take very long to cook so if you are afraid of deep fried food, you should know that if your oil is hot enough, the coating browns quickly and doesn't soak in, so you are really not eating much oil. But, for me, this is simply such a delicious dish that I don't care about it being fried. I just have to indulge in it once in a while. And, as I have mentioned in a previous post about Okra, it has some wonderful properties for your digestion so it makes up for the way it is cooked. I serve it with Ketchup and also Ranch Dressing for my kids, but I like it plain.  It's so good!

Cajun Spiced Fried Okra

1 pound of Okra, rinsed with top stem and bottom tip cut off, then cut into rings (about 1/3")
1 egg white
1 cup Cornmeal (medium grind)
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/8 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1/8 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1/2 teaspoon Paprika
1/8 teaspoon Onion Powder
A pinch of dried Oregano
A pinch of dried Thyme
Sprinkle of Black Pepper
Oil for frying

Heat a deep frying pan over medium high heat (I use a wok) filled with oil up to about 2 inches.  In a large bowl, mix the Okra with the egg white and coat thoroughly.  In another bowl, blend together the Cornmeal, the Salt, Cayenne Pepper and the Garlic and Onion Powders.  Crumble in the Oregano and Thyme and add in the Black Pepper.  Pour over the Okra and mix, tossing with your hands.  Put in about 1/4 to 1/3 of the Okra into the frying pan and cook until the Okra is golden brown.  Remove with a wire basket and add in the next batch.  Keep cooking until all the Okra is cooked. Serve immediately with Ketchup and Ranch Dressing.

Five Element Analysis

Okra is both a Wood and Earth food and the Cornmeal adds even more Earth. The egg white and salt contribute the Water Element, whereas the Cayenne Pepper, Paprika and Black Pepper bring in the Fire Element.  The Garlic and Onion Powder along with the Oregano and Thyme make sure the Metal Element is also present. So, guess what?  This is a balanced little snack and my father enjoyed it most with a cold beer - more of the Fire Element!

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