Southern Fried Okra (and Luffa Gourd)

Southern Fried Okra and Luffa Gourd

Okra is a favorite vegetable around here, so I always try to grow it every summer. It’s not difficult to grow, but I find it to be the ninja of gardening.  Everyone says okra is easy to grow, and I would agree, but no one mentions what a pain it is to harvest!

If I turn my back on it for a second during these full, busy summer days, it silently and immediately turns from innocent, beautiful hibiscus-like flower to 3-foot long pods that could plausibly be a murder weapon.  With okra, size does matter, and big okra pods, while they appear to just be “more okra,” are actually inedible.  I can’t even slice through them with our sharpest, carbon-steel knife, the one we use for butchering because it slices easily through tough hide and sinew!

There seems to be no middle ground for okra.  I laugh to myself in January when I am reading seed catalogue descriptions of okra varieties that say things like, “best picked between 2-4 inches,” an apparently mythical period in okra development.

However, after many unsuccessful okra years, I finally found an okra I am happy with.  It’s a variety from India called Evertender okra, that has proved itself to still be edible, even in my garden!

A new vegetable I am growing this year, and am pleased to test out in the kitchen, are edible luffa gourds.  They are strange-looking, and I hesitated because they looked so tough.  Fried up just like okra, however, they proved to be delicious, and gave off a perfume-like smell while cooking (it vanished by the time we were eating it).

 

Southern Fried Okra and Luffa Gourd

 

Southern Fried Okra and Luffa Gourd

 

Southern Fried Okra (or Luffa gourds)

3 cups sliced okra pods (Less, if you, like me, fail to find them in the mythical tender stage!)

1/2 cup corn flour

1/2 cup wheat flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4-1/2 cup fat for frying (I use chicken fat (schmaltz), or lard, but olive oil or ghee would also be good)

  1.  Mix the flours, salt and pepper together with a fork (I ground them fresh, and the wheat flour was whole wheat).
  2. Shake the dry ingredients over the okra while the oil is heating in a frying pan.
  3. When the oil/fat is quite hot, scoop the okra out of the flour with a slotted spoon, shaking off any extra flour, and put it in to fry.
  4. Fry until golden and crispy.  Serve immediately!

 

 

Southern Fried Okra and Luffa Gourd

 

Southern Fried Okra and Luffa Gourd

The same for the luffa gourds:

 

 

Southern Fried Okra and Luffa Gourd

 

Southern Fried Okra and Luffa Gourd

 

Southern Fried Okra and Luffa Gourd

Just slice them and proceed with the recipe.  They had a very different flavor than the okra, a bit like zucchini, but they fried up very nicely.

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