Use a meat mallet to smash okra, starting at tip of pod and working toward stem end. Place buttermilk in a shallow dish, and place cornmeal in another shallow dish. Stir desired amount of salt and pepper into buttermilk and cornmeal. Dip okra in buttermilk; dredge in cornmeal, shaking off excess.
Pour oil to a depth of 2 inches into a large Dutch oven; heat to 350°. Fry okra, in batches, 2 to 3 minutes or until brown and crisp, turning once. Remove okra, using a slotted spoon; drain on paper towels. Add salt and pepper to taste; serve.
This was delicious. The crust was so crunchy and the inside was tender. The only thing I would do differently would be to put the cornmeal in a paper sack and them drop the buttermilk coated okra in there and shake. That is how my grandma and mom taught me and it seems to coat it more evenly and isn't near as messy.