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How to fry slices of eggplant?

Firatcim Aug 4, 2010 08:23 AM

I'm not a big fan of baked potato chips. Same goes for the eggplant. I know it's healthier to roast, but the bland and at times soggy slices are not a match for caramelized, crunchy yet creamy texture of fried eggplant. In Turkey, we have fried eggplant slices marinated in tomato sauce all through summer. Trying to replicate my favorite summer dish in SF, I have run into a big problem. Deep frying is an art, especially when it comes to eggplant. Theories abound: soak the slices in salted water before frying; salt, then rinse the slices; cut the slices lengthwise and never crosswise; use olive oil heated slowly; use vegetable oil that doesn't smoke at hight temperatures, etc. I can go on and on about the tips dispensed by my favorite cookbook authors as well as bloggers. I wonder if my chowhound buddies would have any valuable information on this matter.

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    Shaw Oliver RE: Firatcim Aug 4, 2010 08:35 AM

    Crisp = hot oil, lack of water in the product, caramelization. I can't instruct better than a cookbook can, but remember those 3 things when you're trying to fry something.

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      Lespauldude RE: Firatcim Aug 4, 2010 08:55 AM

      I have always felt that eggplant is the "sexiest" vegetable. The earthy, mellow flavor and the texture (depending on how it is prepared) truly makes it stand alone (IMO). I believe that the keys to fried eggplant (and any other fried vegetable) are:
      1) removal of as much water as possible (salting/rinsing/pat dry after)
      2) High-smoke point oil (canola - neutral flavor) that is hot - extremely important

      I prefer 1/4 inch lengthwise slices myself. This approach has always worked for me, a self-professed eggplant parm fanatic. In fact, just this past weekend I created an excellent eggplant parm using my outdoor weber grill. A bake pan with parchment paper and a can of canola oil spray did a fine job of browning the eggplant slices. Long Island has been baking in the heat as of late and I didn't want to heat up the kitchen. I hope this helps.

      Happy frying!!

      2 Replies
      1. re: Lespauldude
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        Shaw Oliver RE: Lespauldude Aug 4, 2010 08:58 AM

        "A bake pan with parchment paper and a can of canola oil spray did a fine job of browning the eggplant slices."

        Off subject, but why not grill the eggplant if you cooking on a grill?

        1. re: Shaw Oliver
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          Lespauldude RE: Shaw Oliver Aug 4, 2010 09:03 AM

          I thought of that but I was attempting to replicate breaded eggplant parm via baking on a gas grill. The best eggplant that I have ever had is at Manganaro's on 9th Ave. in Manhattan (Hells Kitchen). Jimmy Dellorto bakes it in the oven and it is simply amazing.

      2. janetms383 RE: Firatcim Aug 4, 2010 08:58 AM

        The way I fry it for eggplant parm..... I always peel my eggplant and DO NOT salt and drain. I find the "bitterness" is in the taste of the peel.
        Then slice 1/4" and dip in beaten egg and coat well with seasoned breadcrumbs. Shallow fry in hot vegetable oil.
        Drain.... Slices will become softer as they cool. But, doused with marinara and cheese then baked... pure heaven.

        6 Replies
        1. re: janetms383
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          Lespauldude RE: janetms383 Aug 4, 2010 09:06 AM

          Another key to having a less-bitter eggplant is insuring that you don't use overly-large eggplants. The actual bitterness is in the seeds and the larger eggplants have more seeds. I agree with you on the "pure heaven" !!

          1. re: Lespauldude
            janetms383 RE: Lespauldude Aug 4, 2010 09:23 AM

            Eggplant parm is my birthday dinner every year!

            1. re: Lespauldude
              greygarious RE: Lespauldude Aug 4, 2010 10:44 AM

              The older and darker-skinned the eggplant, the more likely it is to be bitter. Look for striated, green, or white-skinned eggplant rather than the large purple-black supermarket one.

              Cook's Illustrated also recommends baking the eggplant.

              Search this board for "eggplant wafflemaker" for scuzzo's excellent method, which can even include the sauce and cheese.

              1. re: greygarious
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                Lespauldude RE: greygarious Aug 4, 2010 11:09 AM

                As per Cook's Illustrated :

                "In an article in Cook’s magazine some years ago, Alice Waters, owner of the legendary Berkeley, Calif. restaurant Chez Panisse, says the key to non-bitter eggplant is freshness. That means eggplant which is not too large and is shiny on the outside with taut, deep-colored skin. The flesh should spring back when pressed. Dull skin and rust-colored spots are a sign of age. The inside of the eggplant should be white with few seeds and no green. Green indicates an immature eggplant. Also, eggplant that is not used right away will have a tendency to become bitter as well."

                1. re: Lespauldude
                  greygarious RE: Lespauldude Aug 4, 2010 12:52 PM

                  Sorry to be unclear: I meant varieties that are by definition green when ripe. Waters' comments refer only to the standard purple supermarket varieties.

            2. re: janetms383
              John E. RE: janetms383 Aug 4, 2010 11:39 AM

              We do eggplant the same as you except for a dusting of flour first. We also have never felt the need for the salting, just one more step in a process that already has enough steps. Ours never seem to make it to the parm and marinara stage though, we just eat them as a side dish with sour cream.

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              Harters RE: Firatcim Aug 4, 2010 10:12 AM

              Not a veggie I'm the greatest fan of, but occasionally do cook it. My favourite way these days is to use a ridged frying pan. Aubergine gets cuts lengthways into about 5mm slices, brushed with a little olive oil and then goes onto the very hot pan. Once you've got nice char marks, flip and do the same on the other side. Maximum taste with minimum of oil.

              1. Infomaniac RE: Firatcim Aug 4, 2010 10:35 AM

                Does anyone do flour, then egg wash and then bread crumbs, or is the flour part overkill?

                5 Replies
                1. re: Infomaniac
                  janetms383 RE: Infomaniac Aug 4, 2010 10:38 AM

                  I find the crumbs stick better with just the beaten egg.

                  1. re: Infomaniac
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                    Harters RE: Infomaniac Aug 4, 2010 10:40 AM

                    If I'm breadcrumbing anything for frying, I always flour before egging.

                    1. re: Harters
                      Infomaniac RE: Harters Aug 4, 2010 11:58 AM

                      Same here, chicken, veal, really anything and I see a lot of people don't do the flour first.
                      I'm just following the way my mother and her mother did it.

                      I'll have to try just egg and breadcrumbs on a few to see if I can taste a difference.

                    2. re: Infomaniac
                      coll RE: Infomaniac Aug 4, 2010 04:27 PM

                      They say you should flour only meat first, but my eggplant would not be right without that first layer of flour. Then egg wash with a lot of parmesan, and then flour/breadcrumb mix. Not just for the taste, it's the texture.

                      1. re: Infomaniac
                        John E. RE: Infomaniac Aug 4, 2010 05:01 PM

                        Yes, I always flour first, then the egg wash and then the crumbs. My mother always used saltines crushed up, but I suppose that was only because she always had them on hand in her cupboard.

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                        Shaw Oliver RE: Firatcim Aug 4, 2010 10:56 AM

                        I've never had a bitter eggplant.

                        Mario Batali agrees with me.

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                          morwen RE: Firatcim Aug 5, 2010 02:10 PM

                          I love fried eggplant. I don't fry eggplant anymore. I peel, slice (I skip the salting step), flour, egg, and crumb it, then put it on an oiled cookie sheet and pop it in a hot oven for about 15-20 minutes, turning once. It comes out golden crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside, and ready for whatever I want to do with it from there. Although it's really hard not to just eat it off the pan as is. Also makes a great saltimbucco (sp?)!

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