Sunday, August 7, 2011

Frying Okra. . . and other things, too!

Growing up in the south, you get your fair share of fried things. Fried okra, pickles, zucchini, green tomatoes, jalapenos, jalapenos wrapped in cheese, fried cheese for that matter......well, you get the idea. I'm sure the list goes on an on!

With the height of fryable veggie season upon us, like okra, green tomatoes, and zucchini, I have decided to share my healthier way to fry up some southern goodness. This is more of a formula than a recipe. Traditional Southern frying usually involves milk, or buttermilk, enriched and bleached white flour, bread crumbs, sometimes egg, and a large deep fryer filled with oil/ lard and trans-fats. Not my cup of tea.

For me and mine, I usually use the formula below for frying things. For successful frying, I have found that "double dipping" is key to having a good fried outer coating that doesn't fall apart when in the skillet (well, really quadruple dipping- see four bowls below). I have also found that making a nice mess in your kitchen (and on your hands!) produces wonderful results:

(bowls, from bottom to top: almond milk, almond flour with potato starch, almond milk, homemade rice bread crumbs)

This formula does not use any animal products, and also uses a shallow-fry technique. So no need for eggs or a deep fryer here. Which is nice when you don't have one or either laying around :)

Pumpkin's Healthier Frying Formula
  • some hearty vegetable (I think okra or green tomatoes are best, but try pickles, zucchini, asparagus, anything you think you would like fried, and let's face it that list could get pretty long :)
  • a bowl of non-dairy milk
  • a bowl of fine flour + starch (eg: finely ground rice, almond flour or coconut flour mixed with a starch like tapioca, arrowroot, corn, or potato) the proportions should be about 2 parts fine flour to 1 part starch
  • another bowl of non-dairy milk
  • a bowl of bread crumbs (can be from a healthy store bought bread or bread you made yourself and let sit out overnight to harden a bit) or a courser ground flour (like almond meal- not flour, or corn meal)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • optional: onion and garlic powder to taste
  • coconut or grapeseed oil
  • First, cut the vegetables you are using and lay out onto a cutting board and sprinkle with salt an pepper while you prepare everything else.
  • Line up four separate bowls in a row on your counter where you have enough room. Milk bowl first, then fine flour + starch bowl, then another milk bowl, then bread crumbs or course flour bowl. Lightly salt and pepper the flower and crumb bowls. And if desired, add a bit of onion or garlic powder to the same bowls. Taste the flour mixture and crumb mixture to see if it's salty and seasoned well before going to the next step.
  • Dip the chopped vegetables one at a time in all four bowls, using a fork (in this order: milk, flour, milk, crumbs). Set aside all on a plate until you are ready to start frying.
  • Once you are nearing the end of your battering, you can go ahead and heat a large pan with 2 Tbsp of oil of choice, or enough to cover the pan (grapeseed or coconut work best). This will be for the first batch, but you may or may not need to add more oil the more batches you do- this will depend on how much oil your batter soaks up after the first batch.
  • When the oil is nice and hot, place some of the battered veggies in the pan, being sure to not crowd the pan. You should only need about 2-3 minutes per "side" of each vegetable until it gets nice and golden brown.
  • Remove onto another plate, and add more oil if needed to cover the pan before going on to the next batch.
  • If you are not using store bought milk (like homemade almond milk, for example), you may want to add a thickener, like Xanthan gum or Guar gum to the milk bowls that will help your flours bind better together since there is no egg in this recipe/ formula.
  • Also, you can salt and pepper the milk bowls for extra flavor. I usually just line up all the bowls and sprinkle pinches of salt down the line.
  • I usually only put about 1/16-1/8 tsp of both onion and garlic powders to the two non-milk bowls- depending on how big a batch I'm making.
  • This formula is meant to be messed with/ altered. I never make fried things the same way twice, because I never have the same flours on hand. I have used everything from homemade ground sprouted rice to coconut/ sorghum flour blend for bowl number 2, and everything from stale corn bread to coarsely chopped nuts for bowl number 4. Please, make this formula your own! It is quite hard to mess up frying things this way. My husband can do it this way, and quite well :)
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Happy Frying!
Eryn Jones

1 comment :

  1. I hate to admit it - but I LOVE fried food. What a great gluten free option you've come up with Eryn! Awesome! Thanks for sharing at this week's sugar free sunday.


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