Okra, a staple of Southern cuisine, happens to be the mascot of the Delta State University sports teams. Michael Lomonaco prefers small, young okra for frying, reserving larger okra for stews. When buying, okra, look for firm, bright green, unblemished pods. To trim okra, slice off the stem without cutting into the pod.
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1 cup coarse yellow cornmeal, preferably stone-ground
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg, beaten
1 pound young okra, trimmed
1/2 pound cherry tomatoes, halved through the stem end
1/2 pound large tomatillos, husked and cut into 1-inch wedges
2 cups vegetable oil, for frying
Hot sauce, for serving
How to Make It
In a large resealable plastic bag, combine the cornmeal, flour, cayenne and 2 teaspoons of salt. In a large, shallow bowl, whisk the buttermilk with the egg.
Dip the okra in the egg and, using a slotted spoon, transfer it to the plastic bag. Shake to coat completely; transfer the okra to a large plate. Repeat with the cherry tomatoes and then the tomatillos.
Heat the oil in a large cast-iron skillet until shimmering. Fry the okra over moderately high heat, turning occasionally, until golden and crisp, 2 to 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain. Reheat the oil and fry the cherry tomatoes until golden and crisp, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Reheat the oil and fry the tomatillos, then drain. Gently toss the fried vegetables, season with salt and serve hot, with hot sauce on the side.
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