Well, you saw the huge amount of okra we picked up last week, right? Now we have to use it, so we headed off to the Scratchin’ Library complex, did a quick card catalog check — you do remember those — and found a recipe from the Lee Bros. that seemed to fit the bill for okra season: Sweet potato and Okra Fritters. Now, if there’s another recipe that screams Southern louder, we’d sure like to hear about it!Besides, this recipe has the advantage of incorporating two of most nutritious foods on the planet: sweet potatoes and eggs. Of course, we’ll fry them to balance everything out. We kind of follow the Michael Pollan rule that you can eat anything you are willing to make — from scratch. Well, we think he said something like that. The example we remember was french fries. Everyone loves them, but, if you actually have to make them yourself, you’ll be making french fries about once a year (at best), which is probably about how often you should be eating them. Since we’re willing to try making up pretty much anything, we like this rule. So, let’s get scratchin’ and bust out a bunch o’ fritters.
Oh, and, to give credit where it’s due, this recipe is modified from one in Simple, Fresh, Southern, by Matt Lee and Ted Lee.
Makes about a dozen fritters.
You know by now that you should be searching out those free-range eggs. Easiest place to find them is at a farmers’ market. Everything else is pretty much standard. We try to save stale bead to make into bread crumbs for occasions like this. If you get into the habit, you’ll never have to buy bread crumbs again. For frying, use a light flavorless oil, such as canola, corn, or peanut oil.
Procedure in detail:
Toss sweet potato. In a large bowl, toss the sweet potato shreds with a teaspoon of salt. This will help bring out the moisture, resulting in crisper fritters. In the fritter world, crisper is better, so you pretty much want to do this. Once tossed, set the potatoes aside for 15 minutes to “sweat.”
Squeeze. Grab a handful of potatoes and give then a squeeze. Harder. Harder! Squeeze the juice out of them. We won’t be using the sweet potato juice, so just squeeze over you sink. Put that handful back in the bowl, and grab a new handful and squeeze. Continue until all the sweet potatoes have been squeezed dry and your arm is tired.
Add dry ingredients. Basically, add everything except the cream and egg. Toss the mixture until the sweet potato clumps are broken apart and the mixture is uniform.
Add egg and cream. Pour the egg and cream over the top and mix it in. There, we know your arm is still tired from the squeezing, so….
Rest 15 minutes. Let the batter sit for 15 minutes to allow some liquid to get into the okra. Plus, it gives you a little break to recover, although we used this time to set up our skillet with oil. However, we didn’t start heating the oil yet.
Beat. Grab a wooden spoon and beat the batter. As you mix vigorously, you’ll see the okra releasing the sticky liquid that will bind the batter together. Keep mixing for a full minute until the batter is quite sticky.
Heat oil. Pour enough oil in your skillet so that it’s about 1/4-inch deep. Heat it on medium until it shimmers and is hot enough so that a piece of batter sizzles when it hits the pan.
Fry fritters. Scoop batter by rounded spoonfuls and drop into the hot oil. Press down lightly, and fry for about 3 to 4 minutes on a side, or until crispy. Use care when turning, as these fritters tended to fall apart if not completely crisped.
Serve immediately. The Lee Bros. had a buttermilk and sour cream dipping sauce that they recommended as an accompaniment to these fritters. We had made sour cream recently enough to try their dipping sauce, so we just had ours with a bit of soy sauce.
While sweet potato and okra make for a really tasty combination, these fritters are somewhat troublesome for what you get. Sure, they taste really good, but they don’t stick together very well, which makes them bothersome to fry. This could have been remedied by adding another egg and some more flour to the mix. With such a simple change, these would have tasted just as good, but held their shape better, making for less troublesome frying. Overall, because of the great flavor, we give them four stars.