Monday, October 04, 2010

Exodus of the eggplant

It may be another 20 years before I attempt fried eggplant again.

I am not one for batter-fried vegetables. Give me my tomatoes ripe and sliced, my squash stewed or stir-fried, my okra stir-fried, and my eggplants … well, my eggplants, I’m just not sure about.

My family did not share my antipathy for batter-fried veggies. Hot grease and flour or any kind of batter could only improve a vegetable, in their opinion. I can remember plates and plates of the greasy stuff, passed down to me as though it were some rare delicacy.

I also remember the disgusting grease in the frying pans that had to be discarded afterwards, and it was my job to dispose of said grease. After all, my legs and my back were the youngest and most flexible.

When I got married, I chose a country-boy, more’s the pity for him, because so much of my limited cooking repertoire is not country-cookin’. While my hands can make a mean pan of lasagna and a fairly good fajita, I fall short when it comes to staples such as butter beans and batter-fried veggies. In fact, in 20 years of marriage, I can’t remember any time that I have ever previously tackled fried eggplant. Too much mess for way too little payoff.

But along came a sale on eggplants for a dollar each. And I thought, “Self, that’s a purple veggie, and The Kiddo should be eating purple veggies, at least according to the guilt-inducing info sheets her school sends home.” And then I thought, “Eggplant parmesan – I’ll do it like I do chicken parm, and she WILL eat it.”

Thanks to my favorite cook Alton Brown, I learned that I must first salt and purge the eggplant to get rid of the nasty bitterness. So I prepped the sliced eggplant, let it dry, rinsed all the salt off, and then took the slices through a one-way trip through flour, egg, and a combo of breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese. Into the hot grease they went, and out came a plate full of fried eggplant. I skipped the sauce and presented the plate a la my mom: as though it were a rare delicacy.

The verdict?

The Husband: “These have got too much salt. Why can’t you skip that fancy stuff and just cook southern?”

The Kiddo: “I like the crunchies. Can I just eat the crunchies?”

Hmh. I have since discovered via Alton Brown that eggplants don’t have that many vitamins anyway. That, combined with the lack of enthusiasm – hey, I wasn’t expecting a standing ovation, just a, “Wow, Mom, you batter-fried veggies!” Well, the combination may just render it another 20 years before I batter-fry eggplant again. In the meantime, I have a plate of leftover fried eggplant in my fridge. Any takers?


Sharon Axline said...

MMM I love Fried Eggplant - but I will not do it at home either. Even though we're Southern...ok South Western, we don't eat a lot of fried veggies. I never even KNEW okra was "fried" until I had it out. My Mom always lightly dusts it in corn meal then pan fries it.

Lickety Splitter said...

I'm a deep southerner, deep as they come, but I don't deep fry food. I could never get the flour to stick to whatever I was frying, so I gave up. But hey, if I want any deep fried food, all I have to do is buy it.

I don't cook much at all, but I would like to learn how to cook Teriyaki chicken and cabbage.

Jennifer Shirk said...

I do love eggplant--especially eggplant parmigiana. But I don't fry the eggplant. It seems to soak up grease like a sponge. So I bake the eggplant on a cookie sheet first.

Anonymous said...

No! I shall not be a taker. My husband would be though.

Tawna Fenske said...

I do the same as Jennifer when making eggplant parmesan -- baking is the way to go, especially layered with lots of marinara and fresh mozzarella baked on top. Overall though, it's not a veggie with a whole lot of nutritional value. If you're looking for purple stuff, red cabbage and purple peppers are probably a lot more nutritious.