Thursday, August 4, 2011

Okra Chips

Cheap Eat Challenge, Part 2: Watch as our family of 6 eats on $10/day.

I know Indiana sounds northernly and all, but the fact is that Evansville sits just north of the Mason-Dixon Line. A little southern influence creeps its ways across the river. Which can be a very good thing.

Until 2 years ago, I'd never eaten okra. I'd barely even heard of okra. I couldn't have told you what it looked like. And then a woman in my church mentioned how good it was cut and fried up in cornmeal. I started noticing it around. On a whim I bought 3 (yes, just 3) from a farmer's market one day. I cut them up and was surprised to find that it released a sticky-ish, starchy-ish stuff, which made dipping them in eggs unnecessary. I simply coated them with cornmeal and sprinkled them with salt. I cooked them in a bit of olive oil until they were nice and golden, let them cool a bit, and--oh my. They were crispy and salty--like thick, small, green potato chips. They were so good I bought seeds and planted them in my garden the next year. 

Which brings me to one final point. Okra, the vegetable, just isn't much to look at. Unless you're into sometimes prickly green phallic symbols. But the plant, the plant is beautiful. It has leaves that bloom in a  with a creamy white flower that has a dark purple (almost black) center. They're so lovely that I believe they'd work really well in an ornamental garden, although they do grow rather tall, so put them in the back.

Okra Chips
serves 1
Prep time: 3 minutes
Cook time: 15-20 minutes (you can rush it a bit, but I prefer to let them cook slowly)
Cost: a few cents if they come from your garden

3 okra
2 Tbsp cornmeal
a bit of oil (enough to thinly coat the bottom of a skillet--I use a small one for this small job)
a bit of salt

Coat small skillet with a bit of olive oil. Heat to medium or just below that. 

Cut the okra into discs. You'll notice some strings of goop. Don't be grossed out--it's that goop that's going to make this so easy (come on, eggs are goopy too). Dip or sprinkle the okra with cornmeal on both sides. Sprinkle generously with salt. Place in a skillet (it should be hot enough to sizzle a bit, but not smoke or burn). Let the okra cook until golden or a little browner than golden. Flip and do the same on the other side. I like to do this slowly in order to get these crispy through and through, so I usually turn my heat down to medium low partway through. I feel like the slower you cook them, the less likely you are to burn the outsides while leaving the insides mushy. However, if you just can't wait (and who could blame you), you can speed things up a bit--just keep an eye on them and flip them when they need it. They can actually handle a wee bit of charring, but not--obviously--too much. 

Drain on paper towels and allow to cool just a bit so you don't burn the crum out of your mouth. 

(not beauty queens, no, but I swear they taste awesome)


  1. I love fried okra!! That's what we call it in the South :) Though, I don't really consider Oklahoma part of 'the South'...

  2. Okra is my new favorite obsession! LOVE your chips!


  3. Isn't it great. It's just one of those foods that seems like it will be gross, but it's so good.



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