Thursday, July 25, 2013

Fried Eggplant

Back in the 70’s I visited a very dear friend who was a retired lifer from the U. S. Navy.  I'd take him some dessert I'd fixed for him and he'd offer me something he made.  To this day, when I eat eggplant I think of Otho.  He is the one that taught me “old school” on how to fry eggplant.  I had never had eggplant up to him serving it to me and I fell in love with it.

Because the eggplant maybe a little bitter, after peeling and slicing the eggplant, I soak the eggplant in heavily salted water over night as Otho taught me. I pat it dry with a paper towel the next day. This will remove much of the bitter taste (when I ask Otho why he did this he said it was to remove the poison jokingly).  Although you do not need to soak it in water, I still do it Otho’s way in honor of his memory. 

You can also salt after you have sliced it. Sprinkle the eggplant slices with Kosher salt. Place the eggplant in colander with a weight on top to drain for 30 minutes to drain out the water that is in the egg plant.  I find that salting it improves the flavor of the egg plant also.  I peel mine, but you do not need to.  I peel it because the skin can be a little tough.  Soaking it in salt water also improves the flavor of the flesh if you leave it on.  You can also cut it into wedges for long fries for a different look.

Make sure you get out any excess moisture because it can make the eggplant taste a little bitter and is also dangerous when deep frying as water makes the oil bubble and splatter more.

Picking a Good Eggplant

Check for brown spots on the skin or stem.  Pass it over if you see any.
Pick one with a green stem that is free of mold.
Pick one with skin that is shiny and smooth without bruises or blemishes.
Pick one with skin that is resilient and bounces back when you apply gentle pressure.
Pick one that is heavy for size of eggplant.

The eggplant is technically a fruit, but like the tomato, it is referred to as a vegetable. 

I use vegetable oil to fry in because you can get a higher heat with it.  You can use olive oil if you prefer, but it has a lower burning point.

After the eggplant has drained and dried, set up a breading station of flour, egg wash and flour.  I add Kosher salt and pepper to the last dredge of flour and coat first with plain flour, then dip it in the egg wash and then in the salt and peppered flour. 

Drop your dredged slices into hot pre-heated oil (I like using my big cast iron skillet).

Fry on each side for about 3 minutes each side until golden brown.

Put on paper towel to drain the grease. 

Additional flavorings
I only use salt and pepper with my flour dredge, but you can also add garlic powder, onion powder, and/or a little cayenne for heat.  Eggplant does not have a lot of flavor.  It will soak up what ever flavor you add.

You may also add lemon juice or hot sauce to your egg wash for additional flavoring.

Variations - Skin on or off?  I peel mine, but it is not necessary.

Want even more flavor, try using bacon grease to fry them in.

Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese after frying or use Lawry salt.

You can use Panko bread crumbs or a 50/50 mix of flour and corn meal for the last coating if you like more texture.

Fried Eggplant

My recipe

I start a day in advance and peel and slice my eggplant and soak it in salt water over night.  I slice them as thinly as possible (1/4 inch).  After adding several teaspoonfuls of Kosher salt to water in a large bowl, I put a small plate or bowl on top to keep the egg plant in the water.

The next day I drain it very well in a colander and dry the slices on paper towel before breading it.  I fry them just before serving them.

1 eggplant (I peel the eggplant because it's tough)
3 eggs
2 cup flour
Grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
Vegetable oil
Kosher salt and pepper

In a large skillet, add enough oil to cover the bottom of the skillet. Heat your oil on medium heat.
In a shallow bowl, scramble your eggs.  Pour 1 cup each of flour in 2 shallow bowls.  Once your oil is hot enough, dip your eggplant slices in the plain flour first, then egg wash, coating both sides and then in the seasoned flour coating completely.  Place in pan.  After about 3 minutes or when golden brown, turn with a fork or tongs.  Cook 3 more minutes. Place on a paper towel to cool.  Sprinkle with salt and grated Parmesan cheese while still hot. Continue until you cook all your eggplant.  Do not over crowd the skillet.  It usually takes 3 to 4 rounds to finish it all. 

You may need to add oil after a 2nd or 3rd frying.

One egg plant is more than I can eat, so I always have left overs.  They heat up nicely in the microwave for a second meal. 

Another Variation –  What to do with those left over?  Like fried green tomatoes, you can turn these into an appetizer very easily by topping them with a pizza sauce and some mozzarella cheese and put under the broiler until bubbly and golden brown. 

I so often acquaint food with the first time I had it or who prepared it.  Certain foods will always call up nice memories for me.  Call up a few nice memories for yourself by fixing those that hold special memories for you.

Tomorrow several poke cake dessert recipes.  Have a great day, be happy and may God bless you and yours.   

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