Eggplant is one of those foods that has a lot going for it. It’s perhaps the meatiest-tasting vegetable there is, and is incredibly filling and savory.
Unfortunately, not everyone is a fan of its raw taste. But that’s ok – usually you can convince even the pickiest of eaters to enjoy the flavor after frying it. I recognize that frying eggplant isn’t necessarily the healthiest way to consume the nutritional value of this vegetable, but it still beats other things that you might be frying. Fear not, though, fry-lovers! Tips on those other recipes are coming soon.
Back to frying eggplant, for now. The first step is slicing the eggplant thinly. When frying anything, the thinner your slices, the greater the surface area that will get exposed to the hot bubbling oil during frying, and the “crisper” your fried food will be. What you give up in exchange for that crispiness is less chewy softness in the center (and increased fat content). First cut off the stem.
Then cut your slices. A pretty good balance between crispness and meatiness is slices that are about 1/4-1/2 inch thick.
The next step is laying your eggplant pieces out and salting them liberally on both sides. This helps to draw out as much water content as possible, which eggplant is naturally full of. Having drier ingredients when frying is generally a good idea, because moisture can cause the oil to splatter, while drier ingredients produce better results with less frying time.Unfortunately in the tiny kitchen, we had limited counter space to lay all the eggplant out. We ended up doing what we could (e.g. throw it into any available pan and reuse the stovetop space as a drying area).After waiting about a half hour, lots of the moisture of the eggplant will be drawn out to the surface.Use paper towels to fully dry the eggplant on both sides. It is OK to wipe off the salt in this process, since salt can also cause oil to splatter. Speaking of which, it should now be about time to start heating up some oil. You will want to use enough to fully cover the bottom of your pan. Use an oil with a high smoke point, such as peanut oil. Heat the oil over high until a splash of water sizzles.Simply fry the eggplant on one side at a time until lightly browned in batches. When you lay the eggplant out, try to do it in a consistent direction each time so you remember which went in first. Also remember to lay the eggplant away from you rather than towards you as you place them in the hot oil or it may splatter in your face. Speaking from experience, that can be highly unpleasant.As the eggplant fries, unless you are using a cast iron pan or some material designed to deliver heat evenly across the surface, you will likely notice parts of the pan get hotter than others. The way to solve that problem is rotating the eggplant around the pan. Keep checking the bottoms until they are ready and then flip and fry the other side.Once the batch is done, carefully remove with a spatula to drain the eggplant of its oil as much as possible and then put the fried eggplant on a plate. After sitting for a few minutes, you may see excess oil pool at the bottom. If so, you can add that oil back to the oil still in the pan which can be used for further frying now, or cooled down and stored in the refrigerator for future use.