2 cups fine stone-ground yellow cornmeal (such as McEwen & Sons) (about 11 1/2 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 cups dill pickle slices, patted dry
How to Make It
Make the dip: Sprinkle kosher salt over garlic on a work surface. Using the side of a knife blade, mash garlic mixture to form a paste. Stir together garlic paste, crème fraîche, dill, chives, and lemon zest in a bowl. Set aside until ready to serve.
Make the fried vegetables: Slice tomatoes into 1/4- to 1/2-inch-thick slices. (You should get 4 to 5 slices per tomato.) Cut and discard stems from okra pods, leaving pods whole. Set tomatoes and okra aside.
Pour oil to a depth of 1 inch into a large cast-iron skillet; heat over medium-high to 325°F. (Closely watch the temperature, adjusting heat as necessary to maintain 325°F.)
While oil heats, place cornstarch in a wide, shallow dish. In a second wide, shallow dish, whisk together eggs, buttermilk, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. In a third wide, shallow dish, whisk together cornmeal, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and remaining 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Dredge tomato slices, okra, and pickles in cornstarch, shaking off excess; dip in egg mixture, and dredge in cornmeal mixture, patting cornmeal coating onto vegetables. Place breaded vegetables on parchment paper–lined baking sheets.
Make the fried vegetables: Fry coated tomato slices and okra pods until golden brown and crispy, 3 to 4 minutes, flipping halfway through frying. Fry pickles until golden brown and crispy, 2 to 3 minutes, flipping halfway through frying. Transfer vegetables to baking sheets lined with paper towels. Immediately sprinkle with sea salt after removing from oil. Serve fried vegetables with dip.