If a restaurant served these, I’d not only get them but return solely to have them again. They are worth every bit of the labor required. These are so good that now I want a fryer, when I never wanted one before.
Getting the oil the right temperature without one is tricky. In the last photo below I show that you can saute them too in a very little bit of oil, flipping them for decent results that are more time consuming, but less scary than a pan of oil. Even with frying, the avocado oil is light and the garnishes of honey, lemon zest, and Maldon salt take these morsels from terrific up a notch to wildly marvelous.
I would never have figured this out on my own; all credit for this recipe comes from the new Vegetables Unleashed cookbook by Jose Andres. Thank you!
Fried Eggplant with Honey and Lemon Zest Recipe
eight firm Japanese eggplants
1/4 cup kosher salt
1 cup whole milk
1 cup buttermilk
4 cups avocado oil for frying
1 1/4 cup organic flour
2 tablespoons honey
Finely grated zest of two lemons
Slice the eggplant into 1/4 inch thick rounds. Toss the eggplant slices with the salt (no worries, it leaches out) and spread them out on a cooling rack set over a baking sheet. Let them drain for 15 minutes, then blot the eggplant slices dry with paper towels.
Put the eggplants in a bowl with the milk and buttermilk; top with a plate to keep the eggplants submerged. Let this soak in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours , or up to eight hours.
When ready to fry the eggplants, heat two inches of oil to 350ºF in a large deep saucepan. Line your baking sheet with paper towels.
Put flour on a plate and drain the eggplants, patting them dry. Dredge the eggplants in the flour. In batches, add them to the hot oil, and fry until golden brown, about three minutes. Transfer to the baking sheet to drain. Be sure to return the oil to 350ºF between batches.
Serve drizzled with honey on top, and garnish with lemon zest and Maldon salt. Serve immediately.