A few years ago I posted my recipe for fried okra. The straight forward version featured okra soaked in buttermilk, tossed with a mixture of flour and corn flour then deep fried to crispy heaven. It’s traditional, crispy and perfect. Perfect except for one small thing – the deep fried part. I just can’t deep fry anymore. Not only because of me (still) trying (and failing) to lose weight, but also because of the little ones. The last thing you want to be doing with precious little angels (devils) running around the kitchen is to be playing around with boiling oil. Just the thought of it makes me cringe and run for an anti-anxiety pill.
The first time I tried oven-frying okra, I got a good flavor and a decent crunch, but the coating didn’t brown properly and it didn’t taste fried – with fried okra that’s important! To fix both problems I tried mixing a little of the oil right into the flour/corn flour mixture before tossing it with the okra. That did it. Just one tablespoon of oil mixed with the flour is enough to help the coating brown more evenly. The other thing that helped is using a little extra buttermilk. It turns the dry coating into more of a batter that cooks up crunchy and flavorful but still lets the okra flavor come through too. This is not fat-free okra, but the whole recipe only uses three tablespoons of oil. I use olive oil because I like the flavor and I also like the health benefits, but canola or any cooking oil would work in this recipe.
This oven method is so easy and hassle-free that I’m not sure I’ll ever deep fry okra again. When transferring the okra from the paper to the baking pan, your hands may get a bit gooey, but there’s no frying and that alone makes it worthwhile. It can also be made ahead of time by cooking it most of the way, then popping it in a hot oven for a few minutes right before serving. Enjoy!