The other day, in the midst of a marathon 4-day wedding weekend, Paul and I took some out-of-town friends to The Company Burger so they could revel in its deliciousness. As always, the bacon-and-egg burgers and mayonnaise bar at Company didn't disappoint. But we also got to try one of their vegetable specials, fried whole okra with a vinegar pepper sauce. it was a revelation, and I haven't been able to get it off my okra-loving mind: lightly battered, crisp little bites of the summertime garden. The spicy vinegar was great for dipping, but I wanted to try something a little more clingy on them, and I think this remoulade is a good match. Remoulade (a zippy little mayonnaise-based sauce commonly served with shrimp in New Orleans) will perk up just about any vegetable, whether it's grilled, roasted, steamed, fried, or just plain raw.
Tempura-battered whole vegetables are a quick, almost completely fuss-free* way to enjoy something fried that still feels light. Instead of a heavy flour and egg coating, which obscures the vegetable in a toasty brown shroud, tempura offers a lacy whisper of a crust that lets you see the color and the beauty of the vegetable shining through. I can't think of a more perfect way to fry up some summer. I added a dose of Tabasco Garlic sauce to my batter just to perk things up a bit; you could use regular Tabasco or omit it if you don't want your life to get that awesome.
*I say almost fuss-free because there is a tiny bit of fuss: you have to whisk a batter, you have to heat some oil, and you have to dispose of the oil when you're through. But in order to minimize the fuss-to-deliciousness ratio, I recommend making a little extra batter and frying up whatever goodies you have lying around: whole cherry tomatoes (you can fry these on the vine in small clusters), baby squash, zucchini blossoms (extra delicious!), asparagus, green beans, shrimp, etc., etc., etc. After your fryfest, pour the used oil back into the (empty) bottle from whence it came, using a funnel. You'll see that you ingested hardly any oil at all, yet enjoyed some crispy, hot little veggies at the peak of freshness.
Note to slime-haters: due to a short cooking time, the okra will still have a bit of a slimy texture inside. I love it, but if you don't love it, fry a different vegetable.
fried whole okra with remoulade (inspired by The Company Burger and summer)
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1 Tablespoon Creole mustard
- 3 green onions, minced
- 2 Tablespoons minced celery
- 2 Tablespoons minced parsley
- 1 teaspoon drained capers, plus a little bit of juice
- 1/2 teaspoon Tabasco Garlic Pepper Sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, or to taste
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- vegetable oil for frying, about 1 quart
- 1 1/2 pounds fresh whole okra, rinsed and drained
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon salt
- several grinds black pepper
- 1 1/2 cups chilled club soda
- 1/2 teaspoon Tabasco Garlic Pepper Sauce </p>
- Make the remoulade: Whisk together the mayonnaise, mustard, green onion, celery, parsley, capers and juice, Tabasco, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and paprika in a small bowl. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary; it should have some zing. Set aside.
- Heat the oil in a deep pot over high heat until it's about 360 degrees on a frying thermometer. If you don't have a thermometer, drop in a small cube of bread; if it sizzles happily and turns crisp and brown after about 30 seconds, the oil is ready to go.
- Whisk together the flour, cornstarch, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. Slowly pour in the club soda, whisking, until you have a thin batter with just a few lumps (you may not need quite all of the club soda; it's a forgiving batter). Whisk in the Tabasco Garlic sauce.
- When the oil is ready, drop a handful or two of okra into the batter, stir to coat, and lift them carefully into the oil with a slotted spoon. Fry in batches, without crowding, for about a minute and a half, or until the batter is crispy. Remove with another slotted spoon onto paper towels to drain. Serve hot with remoulade sauce.
Serves 4 to 6 as a snack
Disclaimer: Tabasco compensated me for creating this recipe.