Tag Archives: fried food

49. Okra (Rhymes with Oprah, Sort of)

3 Nov

Do I even need to specify that I’m talking about fried okra? Ok, then.

If you grew up outside of the South, you’ve likely never encountered this weird little vegetable. It’s a green pod that’s shaped kind of like a jalapeno pepper, but with vertical ridges and pointy end. It tastes like…well, okra. Some people use it in stews or gumbos (at least that’s what crossword clues would lead one to believe), but it has a reputation for being slimy. Which is why everybody else fries it.

by jimmywayne: flickr creative commons

I must admit to feeling a wee bit of Dixie pride when the contestants on “Master Chef” had to identify bizarre produce, and the two Southern chefs named okra right off the bat. Also, a shout out to Whitney, the 22-year-old chef from Mississippi who WON. Way to represent!

The typical okra batter is corn-meal based. Don’t ask me why; I wasn’t at the meeting. Okra is sliced horizontally (tossing both ends), battered and then deep fried. Not just deep fried – deeeeeep fried. Many places serve it almost burnt, which is how we like it.

fried okra by roboppy

Imagine my elation upon discovering a rib joint right next to my friend Linda’s house that has fried okra on the menu. Unfortunately, the pulled pork sandwich only came with one side, and I wasn’t about to pass up hushpuppies in favor of fried okra. (Fried dough vs. fried dough with vegetable? No contest.) An extra side was $2.50, and I also wasn’t about to pay $2.50 for fried okra. I don’t like it THAT much.

I guess I’ll never know what Seattle’s version of fried okra tastes like because the pulled pork at “Rainin Ribs” was standard for the area. And that standard is LOW. Yes, the name “Rainin Ribs” should have tipped me off. Now if they changed the name to “Rainin Men” I might consider a second visit. After all, the hushpuppies weren’t too bad.

What’s your favorite place to get okra, outside your grandmother’s house?

16. Catfish (The “Deep-Fried” is Implied)

29 Jan

Ok, a lot of these posts feature food (or drink), and I reckon you can guess why: We Southerners loves us some food. Hey, Mississippi didn’t get to be the fattest state in the US for nothing!

So while folks here in Seattle are swooning over salmon, my peeps back home are loyal to the good old-fashioned fried catfish. With hushpuppies (which one of my Seattle friends mistakenly called “puff daddies.” Of course, the name stuck).

Though I now regularly buy organic produce and “hippie eggs,” I’m still of the opinion that farm-raised catfish is the way to go. Sure, maybe wild catfish live happier lives, but they are notorious bottom feeders. For me, eating free-range catfish would be akin to munching on a fried vulture. Ick. As an aside, when I lived in LA, I was extolling the virtues of farm-raised catfish to a work friend who said, “Farm-raised? I thought it was a fish!”

There’s a reason I’m writing this blog, people.

Now if you happen to be in the South and are itching to try some catfish, I recommend Jerry’s in Florence, MS. Not necessarily because it’s the best, but because it may be the one and only place you’ll eat catfish in an igloo. Yes, I said igloo.

Jerry's Fish House, Florence, MS

It’s been a long time since I’ve been there, and I can’t really remember whether the catfish or hushpuppies are anything special. But it’s one of few places where I, an avowed fish hater, will actually eat fish.

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