Fried eggplant

I love eggplant. Except for one recent unfortunate encounter in a new Instant Pot, I would declare I have never had an eggplant dish I did not enjoy. High end restaurant, Sysco-level, I’m always happy if cooked eggplant appears before me. (But I will not purchase supermarket eggplant which is always old and you can feel how mushy it is; you want a very firm flesh eggplant.)

My mother used to fry slices which I liked very much as a child. Flour, egg, breadcrumbs I think was the drill. I have been roasting it for years with a parsley pesto and then topping with mozzarella and parmesan, like a white pizza, which I also adore. I wanted fried eggplant so I tried Sam Sifton’s technique. It scratched the itch, though fair warning: an oil bomb. 

I made a summer sandwich with fried eggplant, tomato, mozzarella and hot pickled peppers with basil mayo on a baguette. Not bad and I’d do it again.85515759-2E48-494B-A8FB-334EA5D3A091

I sliced leftover fried eggplant into strips and added to a pasta and tomato sauce with mozzarella and parmesan as a distant cousin to Pasta a la Norma. 055A22D2-44CF-408E-A424-3C638E819638

Here’s what I did. It is pretty much what Sam Sifton did for his “best fried-eggplant sandwich.”

Get out a baking pan and put a wire rack on top. 

Get out a large sauté pan.

Mix together 3 eggs and grated parmesan cheese, ~2 T

Slice eggplant lengthwise into 3/16”, which you will note is less than 1/4”. I say 1/4” is fine. You can use a mandoline, though mine is not that large and I just used a knife. Peeling the eggplant is a good idea. Though I didn’t, I think the flavor would be improved because fried eggplant skin is bitter. (If you’re not using fresh, fresh eggplant, you may be wanting to salt it first. To do do, sprinkle both sides of slices with salt, place on rack and let stand for 10-15 minutes. Wipe off eggplant slices with paper towel and put on a plate.

Heat sauté pan and when hot, add 1 c olive oil. (I might try using some veg oil)

Fry eggplant slices quickly for about 30-40 seconds per side under just tender, and transfer to the rack. You will want to let them and the pan cool for a couple minutes.

Heat pan over medium high heat until oil is hot. (You may need to add more!)

Then dip eggplant slices in egg mixture and fry until golden and puffy to cook through, about 2-4 mites. Put on rack to drain. Salt. 

You can cook the eggplant slices in advance and let them sit at room temp for a couple hours. They can be stored in refrigerator for a few days, though if you are going to put into a sandwich, you will want to bring up to room temp. 

Another technique is to roast or broil eggplant slices in oven with olive oil. Less oily. And then you can make eggplant parmesan. 

Another idea is to make an eggplant marinara sandwich: layer cooked eggplant in a pan with tomato sauce and cheese and heat in oven until cheese melts, and then put into sliced ciabatta.

 

A weirdly interesting, or interestingly weird and delicious broccoli sandwich

Years ago I would visit Manhattan and stay near the No. 7 Sub shopon Broadway around 27th Street, which is about the size of a closet, where Tyler Kord or his staff would sling a dyno-mite roasted broccoli sub. It was delicious. I tried to get there every visit. Addictive, even.

The sandwich consists of roasted broccoli, pickled lychees, pine nuts, ricotta salata, and fried shallots. I just learned the components recently having purchased Kord’s “A Super Upsetting Cookbook about Sandwiches” in which he irreverently describes his food preferences and techniques. Of course I homed in on the broccoli sub and soon got to work crafting my own version.

I was unclear about the lychees and in various stores I checked out canned lychees and found there were all in sugar syrup and thought: Hmm, that can’t be right. Well turns it is right — you make pickles with ‘em if you are fully on the Kord train. Me, here’s what I did for one person at home:

Baguette
Roasted broccoli
Pine nuts, lightly toasted
Mayo mixed with honey and apple cider — sweet and tart, kinda like lychee pickles (!?)
Feta (Kord calls for ricotta salata)
Pickled cherry peppers

Spread mayo on bread, layer on remaining ingredients. Grab a bunch of napkins and chow down!

Kord also calls for fried shallots, which I was going to do as he recommends — double fried slices after dipping in corn starch — but I had enough food prep steps and was hungry.