I have an infinite and undying love for all (vegan) foods fried. Nothing makes me happier than firing up a vat of oil, smelling its aroma as it heats to a molten-lava temperature, then battering and plunging vegetables or tofu into it, watching them emerge golden brown, crispy and irresistible.
Deep-fried okra is and always will be a dish that evokes comfort and triggers small sensory memories for me, as I used to consume countless plates of it at diners and meat and threes throughout the southern part of the US many years ago. In case you are not familiar with this dish, the okra always comes sliced, heavily buttermilk-battered and served in ridiculously oversized portions. Although I no longer have easy access to this dish, and wouldn’t eat it even if I did, I still crave it and make my own version of it throughout the summer months.
In my version, I like to keep the okra whole, and opt for coating it in a combination of dry cornstarch and potato flours, rather than dredging it through a thick batter. To counterbalance the richness, I like to serve it with a light vinegar sauce which clings beautifully to the coating without making it mushy. The okra remains slightly crisp, non-slimy and vibrantly green underneath this airy and tempura-like coating.
DEEP-FRIED WHOLE OKRA WITH VINEGAR SAUCE
Yield 2-4 servings
for the vinegar sauce
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 3 TB sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
for the okra
- 2 cups of almond or soy milk
- 1 TB coconut or apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 pound whole okra, washed
- 1 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1/4 cup potato flour
- 1 1/2 tsp Ener-G
- 5 TB water
- canola oil, for frying
Make the vinegar sauce
- Place the water and vinegar into a small saucepan. Bring to a small boil, then add in the sugar and salt and stir until dissolved. Remove from the heat, sprinkle with the red pepper flakes if desired, then place into the refrigerator to chill while you make the okra.Combine the almond or soy milk with the vinegar and baking powder in a medium-sized glass pyrex casserole dish or large prep bowl. Allow it to sit undisturbed for about 10 minutes.
To make the okra
- Wash it, pat dry, then add it to the milk and vinegar mixture. Allow to marinate for 30 minutes, tossing the okra around every 10 minutes or so to ensure all pieces are coated.
- Pour several inches of oil into a medium-sized dutch oven and warm over medium-high heat. After about 10 minutes, test the oil by throwing a pinch of batter in it. If it sizzles immediately, you are ready to fry. (You can also insert a thermometer into the oil and begin frying once it reaches 350 degrees.)
- While you are waiting for your oil to heat up, place the cornstarch and potato flour into a large shallow bowl, and stir to combine.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the Ener-G and water.
- Remove about a quarter of the okra from the milk/vinegar mixture and place it into the Ener-G mixture. Toss to coat, then shake off any excess, then transfer it to the flour mixture. Dry your hands off, then toss the okra in the flour mixture to coat, tapping of any extra.
- Gently drop the okra pieces one by one into the oil. Allow to fry for a few minutes, until golden brown. Remove with chopsticks or tongs and place on paper towels, sprinkling immediately with salt. Repeat the process for the next three batches.
- Serve immediately with the chilled vinegar sauce.