You Don't Hate Okra, You Just Haven't Made It My Mamma's Way

It's so crispy even okra haters love it

Caitlin Bensel
Caitlin Bensel

Few Southern ingredients are more polarizing than okra. For every person who loves the fuzzy green pods, there’s a Southerner who simply can’t abide the slime. If you’re one of those folks who get squeamish about the South’s squishiest dish, you haven’t tried my mamma’s fried okra.

Like many of us, her least favorite texture is slimy—and okra has an ewwwy-gooey reputation. Not to get too nerdy, but okra is mucilaginous (blech!) meaning its pods are filled with a substance that gets slimier when it comes in contact with heat and water, whether that be in a stew or in your mouth (nasty!). Dive deeper into the science of okra slime here. Personally, I’ve had enough!

My mamma, Judy, AKA JuJu (that’s her grandmother name), found a way to overcome the okra ooze, and her technique has ruined me for all other fried okra. The ingredients she uses are basically the same as our classic fried okra recipe, but her version is much simpler. Here’s how her recipe is different, and dare I say—better—than most.

Related: 34 Okra Recipes That Prove It's Not Just For Gumbo

Start With Small Okra Pods

If there’s one piece of wisdom I’ve adopted from my green-thumbed mama, it’s that large okra pods should be avoided like the plague. Big okra pods are woody and not worth eating, according to JuJu. Keep them away from your family and your frying pan.

Slice The Okra Super Thin

Our recipe calls to cut the okra into half-inch-thick slices. That’s too thick for my mom. She can't handle slimy textures, so she cuts her much thinner, into about ¼-inch coins. She’s not fussy—there’s no ruler in her kitchen—but her slices are much thinner than ½ inch.

Keep The Breading Minimal

To this day, I rarely order fried okra at a meat-and-three because it’s usually coated in breading so thick you can’t see the okra beneath it. Mamma dredges her okra in salt and a scant amount of cornmeal—that’s it. Sometimes simple is best.

Fry The Okra To Death

My mama cranks the heat up all the way up to get things going, then never backs down. Her okra is “done” when it’s crunchy all the way through. There’s literally not a speck of squish to her fried okra—it crunches like you’re eating potato chips.

Although JuJu hasn’t convinced her grandson to try her super-crispy fried okra yet, it’s just a matter of time. No one can resist her super-crispy fried okra for long!

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Read the original article on Southern Living.