Photo by Peter Frank Edwards
Eggplants love high heat and they love oil; combine the two, and you have some very happy eggplants. This is one of the most popular dishes at Jaleo. It’s a salty-sweet combo from the south of Spain, where it would be served with dark sugarcane syrup—part of the Arabic influence that has infused so much of Andalusia’s cooking. We soak the eggplant in buttermilk to remove some of the bitterness and soften the flesh, then drizzle it with the best local honey we can find.
- 4–6 servings
- 2 pounds very firm Japanese eggplants
- 1/4 cup kosher salt
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 cup buttermilk (or another cup of milk stirred together with 1 tablespoon white vinegar or fresh lemon juice)
- About 4 cups neutral oil for deep-frying
- About 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons honey
- Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
- Maldon salt
- Using a mandoline or a sharp knife, slice the eggplants into 1/4-inch-thick rounds. Toss the eggplant slices with the salt and spread them out on a cooling rack set over a baking sheet. Let drain for 15 minutes, then blot the slices dry with paper towels.
- Transfer the eggplants to a bowl and cover with the milk and buttermilk; use a small plate to keep the eggplants submerged. Let soak in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, or up to 8 hours.
- When ready to fry the eggplants, heat 2 inches of oil to 350°F in a large deep saucepan. Line a large plate with paper towels. Put the flour in a wide bowl.
- Drain the eggplant slices and pat dry. Working in batches, dredge the eggplant slices in the flour, shaking off the excess, add to the hot oil, and fry until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Transfer the slices to the lined plate to drain. Be sure to return the oil to 350°F between batches.
- Mound the fried slices on a platter or individual plates and drizzle the honey on top. Sprinkle with the lemon zest and Maldon salt and serve immediately.
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