phynedyning

Frying the Hatzilim (Eggplant)!

In Recipies on October 25, 2010 at 9:15 pm

From beginning (top left) to delicious end (center) in minutes.Eggplant…another love-hate food presented as an alternative to Phyne Dyning’s readers.

This recipe is so easy that a non-cook can make it shine!

Okay, eggplant can be daunting.  Many people associated it with “slimy” or “tasteless”.  And, while eggplant can be mild flavoured or horribly bitter, it holds a special place in the diets of many cultures.

From the Asian “globe” eggplant to the more familiar (to Americans) Mediterranean dark purple variety, eggplant offers cooks and diners a healthy and versatile vegetarian alternative to meat.

I grow my own eggplant.  They can be grown in an 18-24” pot in full sun.  Each plant will yield 6-10 fruit per season (depending on the growing season).  The flowers are absolutely stunning and the sight of a growing eggplant screams “Urban Farmer!” to those who may visit your patio garden.  Harvest your crop before they get “gianormous”.

Eggplant can be peasant food or it can be elegant.  I once served this pedestrian staple as an elegant tribute to kibbutzniks when the Israeli consul general visited a local Orthodox shul. (I included the course variation, as presented to the general, in the notes below!)

We can start our eggplant “crawl” with a delightful eggplant “schnitzel”.

No, we are not going to beat our eggplant senseless, we are simply going to fry it like schnitzel.

WAIT!!  Healthy people…PLEASE stay!  This is healthy.  I eat fried eggplant at least twice a month and my total cholesterol never ventures above 188.  I always use a good olive oil for frying and serve the fried eggplant with a bold red wine.  Maybe it is my genetics?  I think it is my choice in wines and foods.

Let’s start cooking…

2-3 medium eggplants (2 if very large)

2 C olive oil for frying (use canola if you hate good food)

garlic powder

3C bread crumbs (Japanese panko*, matzo meal, cracker crumbs, etc.)

Italian/Tuscan seasoning

2 EXTRA large eggs beaten

4 tbs flour

Kosher salt

Salt and freshly ground pepper to serve

* I prefer panko (any variety)

** Penzey’s “Tuscan Sunset” or your own blend of dried oregano, basil, fennel, and thyme

(HINT:  Try to find small to medium eggplant.  The bigger ones are “seedy”.)

I prefer to fry this in a large, electric skillet because the temperature can be carefully regulated to prevent blackening of the coating or burning the olive oil (EEeeeewww!).  I have also prepared this on stovetop with equally good results…but it takes practice to do it right.

Slice the eggplant into ¼” (6mm) thick slices.  Spread the slices on a large cookie sheet and sprinkle generously with kosher salt.  Allow the eggplant to “sweat” at room temperature for 30-45 minutes.  COOK’S SECRET:  “Sweating” eggplant removes the bitter juices that can ruin an eggplant dish.

Place the flour in a shallow bowl, the beaten eggs in another shallow bowl, and the breadcrumbs (or panko) in still another shallow bowl.  Heat the oil in a large skillet (electric?) to 375-degrees (just below smoking).  Rinse the eggplant under the tap, shake off excess water, and place on paper towels or pat dry.

With one fork, run the eggplant through the flour (dredge).  Then, immediately dip the slice in the beaten egg.  The flour helps the egg stick and the egg helps the bread crumbs stick!  Now, coat the slice thoroughly in the bread crumbs (panko).  Repeat until the skillet is nearly filled.  When the bottom of each slice is golden brown (3-5 minutes), gently turn each slice over USING A CLEAN FORK.  Generously sprinkle each slice with garlic powder and the Italian/Tuscan seasoning mixture.  Continue to fry until the “bottom side” is deep golden (3-4 minutes).  Drain on paper towels or newsprint.  Serve hot with an Israeli cucumber-tomato salad and a stout red wine.

VARIATION 1:  Substitute zucchini for eggplant.  Please note, unlike when prepared with eggplant, the zucchini leftovers do not warm up well.  As though to compensate for this, the zucchini version (if eaten immediately) is a very sweet and mild dish!  Yes!  Sweat the zucchini for an extra-sweet flavour.

VARIATION 2:  Omit the garlic powder and Italian/Tuscan seasoning.  Before beginning to fry the eggplant, prepare the curry used in the “Fish Curry” recipe…omitting the fish and adding 1 tbs of granulated sugar during cooking.  Place the fried eggplant on a bed of long-grain rice and spoon the curry over the eggplant.  This is the variation (“hatzilim khouri”) I served to the Israeli delegation and their guests…it was a HUGE success!

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  1. Sounds yummy! If I remember correctly, fried eggplant tastes similar to fried green tomatoes. Also very good. Have you ever done those?

    • You bet! I had a bumper crop of green tomatoes this year because it was cool and damp. I harvested many of my tomatoes green to avoid the stem rot that was ruining the ripe fruit. Try this: Instead of bread crumbs or crackers to coat your tomatoes, try using a dry falafel mix. Works great on chicken, fish, and eggplant too!

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