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Fried Okra in Boston area?

Madrid Feb 23, 2014 07:14 AM

I've had it a Redbones (years ago) and Sweet Cheeks (recently) and in the gumbo at Legal Seafood.

Anywhere else? Went to Tupelo for the first time last Sunday and disappointed, none there.

Any sightings?

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  1. b
    bear RE: Madrid Feb 23, 2014 07:21 AM

    Funny you should ask. We had leftover Blue Ribbon ribs and burnt ends so I picked up a few sides from Redbones because I was in the area. Corn pudding, mac and cheese, hush puppies (a little heavy) and fried okra.

    The okra was soggy by the time we got it home, but I liked the little bite of heat in the breading and thought it was tasty with the remoulade sauce. It wasn't overly greasy, either. I'd get it again if I were eating there.

    1. Matt H RE: Madrid Feb 23, 2014 08:11 AM

      Mrs. Jones in Lower Mills makes very good Fried Okra.

      It is one of the things I miss from my time living in FLA, but Mrs. Jones hits the spot.

      5 Replies
      1. re: Matt H
        foxspirit RE: Matt H Feb 25, 2014 06:57 AM

        OT but I have just found this place on Yelp. Is her fried chicken really good? I might have to trip over.

        1. re: foxspirit
          Matt H RE: foxspirit Feb 25, 2014 08:29 AM

          The fried chicken there is legit. Keep in mind that they only serve wings, they are quite big, but just wanted to mention that in case you were looking for other pieces.

          1. re: Matt H
            foxspirit RE: Matt H Feb 26, 2014 08:50 AM

            Ah. good to know. Thanks!

          2. re: foxspirit
            gltsoi RE: foxspirit Feb 27, 2014 12:12 PM

            I went recently. The fried chicken comes only in wings – 5 to an order ($9) with a small square of sweet, cakey cornbread. The wings were outstanding; they are large, golden, well seasoned and crispy with a tender and moist interior. I swooned at the first bite, as I grabbed for an extra napkin to stem the flow of juices, streaming down my hand. I regretted not ordering the chicken wing dinner plate ($11), which includes two sides.


            1. re: foxspirit
              gltsoi RE: foxspirit Feb 27, 2014 12:14 PM

              I love fried okra - I tried State Park's and disliked the pickled flavor.


          3. v
            valcfield RE: Madrid Feb 23, 2014 08:45 AM

            State Park has 'fried pickled okra' on the menu. haven't had, at the recommendation (against) of a friend. but he's a northerner, so y'know, maybe just not his thing?

            1. p
              pemma RE: Madrid Feb 23, 2014 08:47 AM

              M3 in Davis Square

              1. opinionatedchef RE: Madrid Feb 23, 2014 08:50 PM

                madrid, i was impressed w/ the Sweet Cheeks version (and huge portion). Were you?

                did you grow up w/ it in NC? Funny, my VA mom never cooked okra, though i am wondering if she put it in her Brunswick stew....I actually don't think i ever had it before a few years ago (Indian restnts here), and now it's one of my fav veggies! (but not fried) I like it when it's small but a past client of mine grew it nearby and hers were much bigger(like 5".) and very prolific.

                p.s. i'm maybe remembering that that west roxbury bbq spot, red eyed pig, may have it.

                9 Replies
                1. re: opinionatedchef
                  StriperGuy RE: opinionatedchef Feb 24, 2014 01:15 PM

                  I love it stewed in all it's gooey glory.

                  Fried okra has always been a mystery to me... if they were little bits of say carrot, deep fried, it wouldn't taste much different. There is not very much that is okra-ey about fried okra.

                  Perhaps an artifact of the Southern "fry everything" culinary tradition.

                  1. re: StriperGuy
                    Madrid RE: StriperGuy Feb 24, 2014 01:44 PM

                    well, I disagree. Have you tried fried okra at a place that does it well?

                    It's not just an artifact of the fry everything southern tradition (who invented frying mars bars!). Done well, it's actually really okra-ey, but maybe you had to grow up with it. It's crunchy, corn-ey (cornmeal light breading), and to my taste very okra-ey. I love stewed okra as well, in gumbos, etc., tomato sauces, soup, I use it there often, and I'm not repelled by the slime. I also like it with a light coating baked and broiled, and also grilled. fast, no coating.

                    I don't deep fry at home because I don't trust my abilities and my thermometer, but it is one of those tastes that if you like it, you want it.

                    You don't...I get it. Most don't. My SO after exposure beginning in his 20's, has come to love it in all forms. It's great baked or broiled with a yogurt dip with Indian spices.

                    I wouldn't fry a carrot, but I do pickle both carrot and okra, as well as lots of other vegetables/fruits.

                    I loved the fried okra at sweet cheeks. it was halved vertically, not sliced horizontally, so longer but thinner pieces (I'm thinking a mandolin), greaseless, crunchy, delicious. I did not like the honey coated hushpuppies there, and it's too pricey, too far away, and too hard to park for our child situation at home, so not likely I'll go back soon.

                    The overly breaded, fried at too low temp, rancid oil, eaten when it's cold......horrible for anything, not fit for anything mammals eat.

                    1. re: Madrid
                      StriperGuy RE: Madrid Feb 24, 2014 03:04 PM

                      Hmmmm guess I gotta try it again ;-) !!!

                  2. re: opinionatedchef
                    poundcake RE: opinionatedchef Feb 24, 2014 01:33 PM

                    OC, was your okra-growing friend a New Englander? I was under the impression that we don't get enough heat to grow it up this way.

                    1. re: poundcake
                      Allstonian RE: poundcake Feb 24, 2014 01:42 PM

                      We do - I've bought locally-grown okra at several of the Boston-area farmers markets.

                      1. re: Allstonian
                        Madrid RE: Allstonian Feb 24, 2014 01:48 PM

                        so have I. Southerners go for the smallest pods and I've picked them out at various summer farmers markets. The harvest is so much later up here, but then it is also for corn and tomatoes, peaches and berries.

                      2. re: poundcake
                        opinionatedchef RE: poundcake Feb 24, 2014 05:09 PM

                        yeah. she has a big piece of property on the hill in Winchester. Full sun. She told me she gets a bumper crop every year.

                        madrid, are the small pods just younger, or a diff variety?
                        and the larger pods are less desirable because more fibrous and larger seeds? Are the large okra used for pickling? when i get okra at Indian restnts and grocers, it's always small size.

                        oh, madrid, it's also sold every other day (alternating w/ eggplant) at La Fe. the Dominican take away in downtown Lynn. tomato stewy kind of prep. Near you- Hungry Mother doesn't do it?

                        1. re: opinionatedchef
                          Madrid RE: opinionatedchef Feb 25, 2014 06:25 AM

                          I'm sure there must be different varieties of okra, and some may grow larger pods, but I think whatever variety, the smallest pods are younger. The larger ones tend to be more fibrous, but Sweet Cheeks uses larger ones and they are great, sliced vertically very thinly. You can pickle any size.

                          I've only been to Hungry Mother twice and was not very impressed overall so haven't been back. I do check the menu every now and then and don't recall seeing fried okra.

                      3. re: opinionatedchef
                        pinehurst RE: opinionatedchef Feb 24, 2014 03:28 PM

                        Agree--Sweet Cheeks by a mile, and (whispers) in a pinch, I will eat Cracker Barrel's with hot sauce. Indian places in my area (Merrimack Valley) regularly offer okra, but not fried typically.

                        OT, the side we got battered with (no pun) in my family's corner of NC was hushpuppies. Much prefer okra.

                      4. Chris VR RE: Madrid Feb 24, 2014 03:12 PM

                        Sounds like you are looking for the breaded/battered fried okra, and I can't recall where I've seen that. If you want to try it fried a bit differently, and if Biryani Park reopens, try their Okra (Bandakka) Salad, in which the Okra is lightly pan fried. It made an okra lover out of me. When it's back in season, and until Biryani Park is back in commission, I'm giving this a go http://foodssrilanka.blogspot.com/201...

                        1. rlh RE: Madrid Feb 25, 2014 08:30 AM

                          I grew up on the Ohio River in Kentuckiana and fried okra was a favorite from my dad's garden, however, it was cut into 1/4"-1/2" disks, lightly dusted in seasoned corn meal ONLY (not dipped in batter) and pan-fried, not deep fried. If the oil was the right temperature and it didn't burn, it was crunchy, delicious, and distinctly okra. I have never had this replicated in a restaurant in Boston or elsewhere, though a diner in New Orleans was really close..

                          19 Replies
                          1. re: rlh
                            opinionatedchef RE: rlh Feb 25, 2014 12:05 PM

                            N.O. diner wasn't by any chance the one on St Charles that looks like a mini Greek Revival plantation house, famous for their burgers-- Camelia Grill ?

                            1. re: opinionatedchef
                              rlh RE: opinionatedchef Feb 25, 2014 01:33 PM

                              Nope - but I will add that to my list for future visits - cannot remember the name, but it was not too far from the Upperline restaurant area.

                            2. re: rlh
                              Jenny Ondioline RE: rlh Feb 26, 2014 12:51 PM

                              That's the standard home preparation, which is really the way to go if you're looking for fried okra around here. I've had the fried okra in a few spots and Hungry Mother's was the only half-decent one, but as Madrid points out, it's not on the menu there anymore, or at least not when I've been around.

                              I haven't had State Park's pickled fried okra, simply because although my ancestral homeland of San Angelo, TX is ground zero for pickled okra, YOU DON'T FRY PICKLED OKRA. It's just that simple.

                              You can lay hands on okra all year at Russo's and in season at the farmers markets. Get the smallest pods you can find: the giant pods are for stewing and are far too woody to be nice for fried. If you've just pan-fried some chicken -- and really, why not pan-fry some chicken? -- cornmeal dusted fried okra is a nice thing to do with the hot oil while you're waiting for the chicken to cool.

                              1. re: Jenny Ondioline
                                Madrid RE: Jenny Ondioline Feb 26, 2014 01:11 PM

                                and I've never seen fried pickles before at least in North Carolina. I know some Middle Eastern cultures and maybe in Turkey....do fry pickles? Did I miss something in NC or are fried pickles prevalent through the South, or maybe just a new trend?

                                Has anyone tried those State Park fried okra pickles?

                                1. re: Madrid
                                  valcfield RE: Madrid Feb 26, 2014 01:41 PM

                                  Fried pickles were definitely prevalent in Mississippi, usually with some sort of ranch dipping sauce. can't speak to other southern states.

                                  1. re: valcfield
                                    kewpie RE: valcfield Feb 26, 2014 06:29 PM

                                    grew up in n. ga- had fried pickles a handful a time a year. not uncommon-

                                  2. re: Madrid
                                    Jenny Ondioline RE: Madrid Feb 26, 2014 01:43 PM

                                    Recent trend, not new one. They've had fried pickles at Redbones for years, for example. I tried one out of a friend's order once, it was all right. Not so much that I've ever ordered them myself.

                                    The implication has always been that fried pickles are something you'd find on the menu of a backroads barbecue place or roadhouse bar, but I've spent plenty of time in both and never saw them on those menus. I suspect it's a creation of the Sysco types, as culturally authentic as the Bloomin' Onion.

                                    1. re: Jenny Ondioline
                                      valcfield RE: Jenny Ondioline Feb 26, 2014 01:59 PM

                                      Niece piece from USA today dealing with the history of kool aid pickles and deep fried pickles in the Mississippi Delta. if it is a corporate invention, they did a good job retconning it ;)


                                      1. re: Jenny Ondioline
                                        Jolyon Helterman RE: Jenny Ondioline Mar 1, 2014 02:48 AM

                                        I dunno. What year of invention was the cut-off for something to be considered "culturally authentic" in Southern cooking? ;)

                                        I grew up in Irmo, SC, which grew so much okra we had an annual okra festival (the Okra Strut, with parade, okra-eating contest, etc.). Not sure I remember fried *pickled* okra, but it's all over the South now, and seems plenty authentic to me, if possibly a lot newer than, say, hushpuppies.

                                        Either way: I kinda liked the fried pickled okra at State Park, though I'm more obsessed with the Nashville hot chicken!

                                        1. re: Jolyon Helterman
                                          Jenny Ondioline RE: Jolyon Helterman Mar 1, 2014 04:46 PM

                                          Wait, fried pickled okra is an actual thing in the south now, as opposed to fried pickles and fried okra? I've been gone longer than I thought!

                                          1. re: Jenny Ondioline
                                            carolinadawg RE: Jenny Ondioline Mar 2, 2014 03:34 AM

                                            I've lived in The South for over 50 years and have never seen, nor heard of, fried pickled okra.

                                            1. re: carolinadawg
                                              opinionatedchef RE: carolinadawg Mar 2, 2014 10:36 PM

                                              but dawg, it appears that, like many other things, you may find it in CERtain Southern states, but not all.
                                              On this thread, it seems like N.C., S.C., GA, MISS, have had sitings, but not other states. Where are you?

                                      2. re: Madrid
                                        carolinadawg RE: Madrid Feb 27, 2014 12:44 PM

                                        Its a fairly recent trend here in NC, but has spread rapidly.

                                        1. re: carolinadawg
                                          Madrid RE: carolinadawg Feb 27, 2014 01:40 PM

                                          thanks for the info....I'll know to expect it next time I'm in NC and what to avoid! Unless you have some good recommendations...

                                          1. re: Madrid
                                            carolinadawg RE: Madrid Feb 27, 2014 02:55 PM

                                            I don't think I've ever ordered fried pickles, lol. They show up mostly in pubs, hipster diners and sports bars.

                                            1. re: Madrid
                                              Boston_Otter RE: Madrid Mar 1, 2014 12:44 PM

                                              If you're looking to try fried pickles locally, the best I've had are at Redbones, who fry pickle chips and mix them with fried jalapeño chips for more of a kick. Fun stuff.

                                            2. re: carolinadawg
                                              Jolyon Helterman RE: carolinadawg Mar 2, 2014 03:57 AM

                                              I've tried it personally in Asheville, Charlotte, Atlanta, and Columbia (SC), and I know that Sean Brock does it sometimes at Husk in Charleston.

                                              1. re: Jolyon Helterman
                                                carolinadawg RE: Jolyon Helterman Mar 2, 2014 05:02 AM

                                                What is "it"? In my post that you responded to, I was talking about fried pickles.

                                                1. re: carolinadawg
                                                  Jolyon Helterman RE: carolinadawg Mar 2, 2014 05:33 AM

                                                  it = fried pickled okra (sorry, I read too quickly)

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