It's hard to say exactly when I fell in love with okra. I grew up in Lagos, Nigeria, where the viscous vegetable claimed a regular spot on our dinner table, most often in the form of a spicy, savory side dish called ila asepo, a soup strewn with chunks of meat, dried shrimp, tomatoes, and peppers. Many years later, when I moved to Atlanta, Georgia, to become a pastry cook, I encountered many fascinating riffs on the familiar green pods. Here, okra came to the table battered and deep-fried, conserved in spiced chutney, roasted whole, and added to thick gumbo. But my absolute favorite use of okra came in the form of fritters, fried until golden and crisp and served as a cocktail nibble. The cornmeal lends the tender okra a nice crunch as well as toasty flavor. Cornmeal adds a toasty flavor of these golden okra fritters. Serve them hot with spicy stewed tomato relish. Dried shrimp can be purchased at many Asian or Hispanic grocery stores. If you want to make these vegetarian, you can omit the dried shrimp.