Summer in the deep Deep South is no joke. Yes, we have splendid winters and spring is nice but summer is a wee bit challenging. Of course the oppressive heat and humidity gives us something about which to complain. Chronic complainers have no shortage of material.
The trade-off is that we harvest all sorts of fruits and vegetables that are divine in their own right, but they’re also iconic. Their notability is known far and wide. One such vegetable is one of my favorites: okra. I’ve never met an okra pod cooked in any of a variety of methods, that I didn’t love. Throw me some okra anyway you please and I’m a happy individual.
In my younger days, my palate didn’t tolerate much in the way of heat. In fact, it was downright wimpish. Anything hotter than ground black pepper wasn’t to my liking. As I’ve aged and my taste buds have lost sensitivity, I find some heat pleasing to my palate. Instead of turning away from spicy foods, I look for ways to incorporate moderate heat.
Hot peppers are common among Southern kitchen gardens. I’ve seen many tiny little women eat peppers so hot I was afraid their heads would blow off their shoulders. On the other end of the spectrum, I’ve witnessed many big ol’ Southern boys consume peppers so hot I was afraid they would dehydrate from the buckets of sweat that poured off their heads. I suppose the lesson learned is that body size has no bearing on the heat tolerance of the mouth or anything beyond the gullet. Hot is hot and it burns today and will burn tomorrow, too.
So, this batch of fritters I whipped up had just the right amount of heat to make them tolerable and pleasing to my semi-wimpish palate. For more heat, leave in the seeds and membranes of the jalapeno. For less heat, remove them all.
Summertime and okra. It’s really a beautiful time of the year.
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Okra Jalapeno Fritters
Fritters are small bits of batter loaded with fruits or vegetables and fried until the outside is crispy but the inside remains soft. A combination of okra, sweet onions and jalapeno peppers make tasty fritters. Comeback Sauce is the best dipping sauce for these little nuggets.
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup stone ground corn meal
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups sliced okra
1/2 medium Vidalia onion, finely chopped
1 medium jalapeño pepper, minced
1/4 cup buttermilk
Add flour, corn meal and salt to a bowl and stir.
To flour mixture, add okra, onions and jalapeño pepper. Stir until vegetables are coated.
Whisk buttermilk and egg. Pour over vegetable mixture. Stir until dry ingredients are wet.
Add enough of cooking oil to a large cast iron skillet for 1/2 inches deep and heat to 350 degrees.
Drop a scant tablespoon of mixture into hot oil. Press flat with the back of the spoon. Don’t crowd in the pan. Work in batches.
Cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until brown on one side.
Flip and repeat.
Remove and drain on wire rack. Sprinkle with coarse salt.
Serve with Comeback Sauce.
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup stone ground corn meal
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 cups sliced okra
- 1/2 medium Vidalia onion, finely chopped
- 1 medium jalapeno pepper, minced
- 1/4 cup buttermilk
- 1 egg
- Add flour, corn meal and salt to a bowl and stir.
- To flour mixture, add okra, onions and jalapeno pepper. Stir until vegetables are coated.
- Whisk buttermilk and egg. Pour over vegetable mixture. Stir until dry ingredients are wet.
- Add enough of cooking oil to a large cast iron skillet for 1/2 inches deep and heat to 350 degrees.
- Drop a scant tablespoon of mixture into hot oil. Press flat with the back of the spoon. Don't crowd in the pan. Work in batches.
- Cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until brown on one side.
- Flip and repeat.
- Remove and drain on wire rack. Sprinkle with coarse salt.
- Serve with Comeback Sauce.