by Vernon Summerlin
At this writing my Tennessee garden is producing like gangbusters. If you have a garden south of the Mason-Dixon line, your okra and jalapenos (chilies) likely ripe in concert. And that’s just how I like ’em because I fry ’em in concert. First, I fry the sliced chilies in canola oil in a covered 2-quart (or larger pot). I discovered that if I slice the chilies to crispy pieces, all I have to do to enjoy my little labors is drain the crunchy pieces, salt and eat. They are mucho delishimucho!
But I don’t stop there. While the oil is hot, I throw in enough popcorn to cover the bottom of the pot and put a lid on it. When the kernels have all burst, they’re transported to a bowl then salted with fine-grained popcorn salt. The jalapeno’s “heat” is infused into the white puffy puffs. I’ve found that Redenbacher’s corn pops best. The big fluffy puffs have fewer “windows”, and the larger-size puffs corn soak in more spice.
In time, I tried a variation on that process. While frying jalapeno slices into crispy dainty chunks and removing them to drain, I wash okra to wet the 2- to 4-inch pods, slice them and dust all while still wet with a flour/corn meal mixture (1/3 ratio). Fry the bits. The heat transfer of the chili’s warm essence is soaked into the okra. Treat the okra like it is popcorn. Salt and serve.
I haven’t measured the ingredients other than eye-balling them. Here’s a list:
- Canola oil to cover the bottom of a 2-quart pot (with a lid)
- 2 to 4 jalapenos or more cut into bite-sized pieces and fry
- Remove jalapeno pieces, drain and salt
- Add corn kernels to cover the bottom of your pot. You should have enough oil remaining, if not add a splash or so.
- Pop the corn, remove to bowls and sprinkle with popcorn salt. Sit back and munch through a movie;)
As above, fry your jalapenos, remove and drain. Slice okra crosswise and slice lengthwise, just for the fun Fry, drain, salt and serve
My wife, Cathy, likes to add chopped tomatoes, sweet onions, crispy bacon bits to a big bowl of fried okra to make a howling tasty Okra Salad.
Now for cooking your Jalapeno Crappie:
- Cut fillets into bite sized chunks
- Salt & pepper
- Dredge in flour/cornmeal (1:3 ratio) mixture and set aside
- Fry several jalapenos cut into thin slices, remove and drain.
- *Fry the crappie chunks, remove, drain and salt & pepper to taste.
- Or use your favorite fish-frying method