Whole Fried Okra with Buttermilk Herb Dressing
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
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.