Fried Okra Croutons

by R.B. Quinn and Min Merrell

Fried okra croutons on a simple spinach salad.

The Legal Seafood restaurant chain used to have an appetizer of fried clams on a bed of fresh watercress. It was the perfect bite. Hot crispy salty clam, peppery cold cress, the pow of fresh lemon, finished with creamy tarter sauce. We always ordered it on our way in or out of the Providence airport.

Bummer, the watercress has been replaced by a slab of cornbread. It’s not even good cornbread. Nor is it part of the dish you’d actually eat. Maybe no one else ever ate the watercress.

Oh well, we still have the memories and the inspiration for this fried okra spinach salad.  Close your eyes and the crispy fried okra works like a clam or a crouton. Dress the salad with a basic lemony vinaigrette or buttermilk-down some tartar sauce, kind of like Tartar Ranch.

Frozen okra “drying” in self-rising cornmeal mix.

fried okra croutons

Frozen okra slices work just fine for frying. Thaw and toss them in a generous amount of self-rising cornmeal mix and let them “dry” for a few minutes. That way the crust will stay on better during frying. If you want to get a brand of breaded okra ready to fry, my favorite is Stillwell.

Cornmeal batter wrecks the oil. Use a shallow skillet for less waste. Fry out of doors whenever possible.

fried okra croutons

You might as well fry a whole bunch and make a meal out of it. The okra can be lightly scattered over a salad like croutons or as a more substantial starring ingredient like the fried clams.

Okra croutons waiting for greens and a dressing.

fried okra croutons

Fried okra looks best when it’s not totally encapsulated in cornmeal. You want to see a little green.

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