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Shoestring Okra with Comeback Sauce

Author: Adapted from Taste of the South Magazine and Big Food Big Love by Heather Earnhardt

Ingredients

COMEBACK SAUCE:

  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup chili sauce (I used Heinz)
  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  • 1 tbs canola oil
  • 2 tsp hot sauce (I used Texas Pete)
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • tsp mustard powder
  • tsp onion powder
  • tsp garlic powder
  • Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper, to taste

SHOESTRING OKRA:

  • Canola or vegetable oil, for frying
  • 1 lb. fresh okra
  • Lemon juice, as needed (you’ll probably go through half a large lemon)
  • ½ cup cornstarch
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbs kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
  • Fresh cracked black pepper, to taste

Instructions

COMEBACK SAUCE:

  • Combine all the ingredients in a small mixing bowl. Whisk quickly until thoroughly combined. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed. Chill covered in the fridge until needed.

SHOESTRING OKRA:

  • In a high sided skillet, pour oil to a depth of about two inches. A little under is fine. Heat it over medium heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 350℉.
  • Cut each piece of okra in half lengthwise. Then cut each half into roughly ⅛-inch strips. The question here is whether you take the seeds out or not? You can do whatever you want here, but I can assure you from personal experience that it’s not wholly necessary, and my recommendation is that you flick them off with a paring knife ONLY if they will be flicked willingly. And some strips will. To me, it’s so not worth the headache trying to extract them.
  • After you have your okra strips, place them in a large mixing bowl and drizzle them with lemon juice. Toss gently to coat. Some seeds fall out here. It’s fine, let them.
  • In another large bowl or deep-dish pie plate, whisk together cornstarch, flour, salt, and pepper. Working in batches, dredge okra in the cornstarch mixture, shaking off the excess.
  • Use a spider or long-handled slotted spoon to carefully transfer the okra to the hot oil. Fry until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove and let drain on paper towels. Be sure you hit them with a sprinkle of salt as they come out of the oil.
  • Serve immediately with the Comeback Sauce.

Notes

The okra recipe is adapted from Taste of the South Magazine (September 2019 issue) and the Comeback Sauce is slightly adapted from Big Food Big Love by Heather Earnhardt. I mostly halved the Comeback Sauce. The original recipe made a substantial amount, all of which we couldn’t get through, so I halved the mayonnaise and other main ingredients, cut way back on the lemon juice to keep it thicker (personal preference, you can use more) but then kept the hot sauce Worcestershire sauce amounts as written. Comeback Sauce is a Southern staple that hadn’t made its way to my personal neck of Texas by the early 2000s, so I was unaware of its goodness until moving to, of all places, New York City. It’s delicious, a cousin of tartar sauce or remoulade. I’m not surprised people just keep it on hand to dip whatever in it. The Shoestring Okra is lovely, like turning okra into fries or something. I had to increase the amount of coating, as written provided nowhere near enough. I recommend making the Comeback Sauce first and letting the flavors develop in the time it takes to fry up the okra. These are addictive! It’s a really fun snacking dinner. Enjoy!