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Saturday, July 12, 2008

Fried Eggplant Soaked in Salt and Milk, no less!

Seasonal Recipe of the Week
Eggplant soaked in milk, how could it be? Well if you've ever noticed how bitter eggplant can be, this solves that problem. Here is a great, easy recipe, it’s all about technique and it’s from Paula Wolfert's book called World of Food, and with local eggplant soon to appear, now is the time to master this recipe.

1 pound narrow eggplants, preferably Japanese
2 teaspoons coarse salt
1 to 2 cups milk
Oil for deep frying (Wolfert suggests olive oil)
Flour for dredging
Salt. Pepper, and cinnamon
Granulated sugar, optional

Peel the eggplants and cut them into 1/2-inch thick rounds. Place the rounds in a colander and sprinkle them with the salt. Weight them down — I use a plate — and let them sit for at least 1 hour. Rinse them, place in a bowl and cover them with milk (which will draw out the salt) and let sit till you are ready to fry. Preheat oven to 250. Heat your oil in a deep pan to 375. Meanwhile drain the eggplant and pat dry on paper towels. Season the flour with salt, pepper, and cinnamon. Dredge half the slices and shake off the excess flour by shaking them in a strainer over the sink. Now add them to the hot oil one at a time so they don’t splash and burn you. Fry them till they are crisp and brown on both sides, around 7 minutes. Drain on paper towels and place in the oven to keep warm. Repeat with remaining slices after checking the oil is back up to 375. Serve at once, sprinkled with a little sugar if desired. Note — because of the salting and soaking process these eggplant slices will absorb hardly any oil during frying. So there!