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Tempura Fried Okra with Ranch Ice Cream

Rule
In the south, ranch dressing may very well be considered a side dish. Okra deep fried in traditional Japanese-style is made all the more fun when our favorite dressing is churned into an ice cream-style dipping sauce.

Serves 4
2 quarts peanut or canola oil
8 ounces whole okra or 4 cups
1 egg yolk
1 cup club soda
1/2 cup Wondra flour
1/4 cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup ranch

Ranch (makes 2 cups)
1 cup full fat sour cream
2/3 cup mayo
1/4 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons minced chives
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 teaspoon onion powder
2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (vegetarians use anchovy-free)

Note: It’s important that your okra is at room temperature before you fry it. If it’s cold, the batter will not adhere as well.

Make the dressing: Whisk everything together and chill for 1 hour before freezing. Freeze in the bowl of your frozen dessert machine just as you would regular ice cream. Let it set up in the freezer for 1 hour before serving.The dressing will keep its’ quality for up to 2 days frozen. After that, you’ll need to thaw and serve as regular ranch dressing or thaw and refreeze.

Up to 3 hours before you’d like to serve the okra, process the ranch dressing in the bowl of your frozen dessert machine. Then transfer it to your freezer. I like this ice cream pretty soft, so either serve it directly from the machine or bring it out of your freezer a few minutes before you pair it with the okra. You’ll probably need to freeze at least 2 cups to satisfy the machine, but you can melt the ranch and reuse it as regular dressing, or you can fry more okra or other similar vegetables. 

Using a thermometer, bring the oil up to 350 in a 4-6 quart Dutch oven and preheat the oven to 200. Set up a rack on top of a baking sheet nearby. Just before frying, whisk together the yolk and club soda. Then whisk in the flour, cornmeal, 1/2 teaspoon salt and sugar. The batter will look and feel like watery pancake batter and will seem too thin to cling onto the okra. Please try 1 okra before adding any more flour or cornmeal to the batter. 

Completely submerge the test okra in the batter, and drop it into the hot oil. If it adheres and doesn’t completely flake off, you’re good. What you’re looking for is a transparent crispy coating. You should actually be able to see the oil bubbling between the okra and the batter. A few holes in the crispy exterior is acceptable. Whole sides washed away are not. If the batter flies off, add another tablespoon of cornmeal.

Fry the okra in 2 batches for about 4 minutes each. 2 minutes in, roll the okra over in the oil carefully to make sure it’s frying evenly. Transfer the first batch of okra to the rack and season it with half the salt. Slide that okra into the warm oven while you fry the second batch in the same fashion. Serve the okra hot and salty with the ranch ice cream.