I wish I could tell you I know a lot about eggplant, but I can’t. I never touched the stuff when I was growing up and as a young and not so young adult, I stayed away from it based on my early childhood impressions.
Then I went to Spain and the stuff was EVERYWHERE. I tried it roasted and swimming in garlicky olive oil and I feel in love with the creamy sweetness of it. Since then, I’ve made it a handful of times, always following the preparation I enjoyed in Spain. I add onions, peppers and garlic, douse it with olive oil and either roast it in the oven or slow cooking on the stovetop.
Lately I’ve been pondering about other ways to eat it since it is now a friendly veggie. This means it will make an appearance every so often on this little blog. Today, I’ll give you a recipe I found in Saveur magazine for fried eggplant. When I tell you it is to die for, I am NOT exaggerating. The batter is a similar to a tempura batter, but it is ridiculously easy to make. Read on.
First things first, get that eggplant ready for consumption. I didn’t know this about eggplant, but it has an inherent bitterness that is best removed before frying. Saveur’s suggestion is to use salt to draw the bitterness out.
Peel and slice the eggplant into rounds that are about 1/4 inch thick. Lay them out on a cookie sheet that has been covered with paper towels or a kitchen towel. Sprinkle with salt, preferably coarse that way the eggplant doesn’t absorb as much of it. The salt also seems to prevent the discoloration.
Saveur’s recommendation was to let it sit 30 minutes, but the first time I made these I allowed them to sit for about an hour and that seemed to work best. At the end of that time, you’ll notice there’s a lot of liquid on the tops of each slice.
Flip each slice over and squish it into the towel to remove the liquid and remove some of the moisture that may still be trapped in the slice. Then brush off with a damp cloth to remove the excess salt.
OK, Ok. Here’s the recipe:
Saveur’s Fried Eggplant
1 1/2 cp flour
1 1⁄4 cp white wine (I used a Pinot Grigio)
1 large or 2 medium eggplants sliced into rounds
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Vegetable oil for frying
Whisk wine and flour in a medium bowl until batter is smooth, season to taste with salt and pepper. Remember that the eggplant slices will have some salt if you used that method, so be mindful about how much salt you’re adding to the batter. I would suggest following the recipe as is, frying one slice and tasting it before adding any more salt.
Pour oil into a heavy skillet or deep fryer and heat oil to 400° or until it sizzles when you drop in a little batter. Dip eggplant slices in batter, then drop them into oil, but try not to crowd them. Fry until golden brown, flip and fry the other side. Drain on paper towels.
You can keep them warm in a 200° preheated oven. Something weird happened when I made these the first time. I left the skins on them and it was perfect just out of the fryer, but as they cooled, the skin was tough and papery. I suggest peeling them, makes eating them a LOT more enjoyable.
PS: The batter was awesome on asparagus too!