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How to make great fried eggplant? No breadcrumbs

We had lunch two days in a row at our wonderful local Southern buffet place. They had fried eggplant, which I'd never seen there before. It was WONDERFUL! It had a very light, crispy batter coating and was very sweet. It was almost like tempura.

I can't figure out how they did it and in HUGE quantities for the after-church rush!

There were no breadcrumbs or cracker crumbs. It was just a very light, crispy batter coating.
I think it must've been deep fried, as I can't imagine they could pan fry it in those quantities. Though, they were only putting out about one eggplant worth of slices at a time, so maybe it was pan fried?

(This place serves an amazing number of covers, especially on the weekends. It's always interesting to peek into the spotlessly clean kitchen and see an ARMY of cooks, all working calmly at their stations. Today, they had at least 10 different veg, baked and fried chicken, ham, two types of fish, chicken and dumplings, wonderful rolls and cornbread, salads and desserts!)

When I've tried to do something similar with eggplant, I've always had issues with the batter sliding off.

I want to make more of this wonderful eggplant, while I can get my hands on some beautiful ones!

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  1. I dip eggplant slices in a 50%/50% water/egg solution, then dredge in seasoned flour and deep-fry. It ain't batter but it's good.

    1. use the salting trick to draw excess moisture out of the eggplant slices before dipping them in any batter - that should help prevent the batter from sliding off. for a really airy, crisp result, use a tempura batter recipe that calls for club soda.

      1. 2 eggs and a 1/4 cup milk scrambled together with fresh cracked pepper and a pinch of sea salt is how I do it when I'm not using flour or breadcrumbs.

        1. A beer batter, buttermilk soaking or a soy protein "bath" will all result in a lighter crust sans bread.

          1. One other trick I've cited before: start your eggplant coins or disks (I usually salt, sweat, and press first) with a little oil. once that is absorbed, you can add a bit of water once or twice until the eggplant has completely "sauteed". Comes out light and fresher tasting, but with that sauteed in lots of oil richness.