I have to be in the mood to eat eggplant… I like it, but I have to be in the mood for it. However, I am ALWAYS in the mood for fried eggplant. It could be the Latin in me that gravitates to anything fried. But that’s the truth…
Ever since my friend Tania returned from her first trip to Paraguay, she and I have both been in love with her fried eggplants. She always saves me a batch every time she makes them at home. When she makes them at the yoga center, they’re the only thing on my plate.
She learned them from a woman in our yoga center there, in Coronel Oviedo in Paraguay. And on that side of the world, they call MILANESAS anything that is breaded and fried. Talk to any Argentinean, Chilean, Uruguayan, etc. and they’ll call milanesa what I called growing up empanadas… and the most common thing to “empanar” was a chopped steak. Now that we’re vegetarians, we need to “empanizar” something else… and these Eggplants Milanese are truly SOMETHING ELSE!!!
3 small eggplants, I like to pick the lightest eggplants possible = less seeds 3 tbs of tamari 1 tbs ume plum vinegar About 1 tbs + 1 tsp of garlic and herbs seasoning, divided 2 cloves of garlic, minced finely 3 cups of cornstarch ¼ cup of milk 3 cups of quick-cooking oats, ground as finely as possible in a food processor Canola Oil for frying
- Peel and slice the eggplants using a mandolin slicer.
- Place eggplant slices in a glass container and season with tamari sauce, vinegar, minced garlic and 1 tbs of the garlic and herbs seasoning. I drizzle the tamari over the eggplant slices little by little using a measuring spoon and massage the slices to cover – like giving the eggplant some color. It may seem like there’s not enough tamari to season, but the salt in it will allow the eggplants to purge and the end product will be a lot of water in the bottom of your glass container.
- Cover the container and marinate the eggplants in this mixture for at least 2 hours.
- After the marinating time has elapsed, prepare a breading station using 3 containers, 2 larger and 1 smaller one. In the first larger one place the cornstarch, in the second smaller hand place the milk and season with the 1tsp of remaining garlic and herbs seasoning.
- And in the third larger container, place the ground oatmeal. Also, set a cookie sheet covered with foil or parchment paper to set the eggplants after breading.
- And using your right hand for the dry stuff and your left hand for the wet stuff (hey, I’m a righty, but you can switch if it works better for you), we start to bread… take an eggplant with your right hand and place in cornstarch to coat. With your left hand pick it up and dunk into seasoned milk. Place it in the oatmeal dish with that same hand. With your right hand, cover the eggplant with more oatmeal and pat the oatmeal so it sticks to the eggplant well. After wards, press on the eggplant to make sure the oatmeal breading sticks well. Place on the cookie sheet waiting for it to be fried. Repeat the process until all eggplant slices have been breaded.
Here you have 3 options:
- Store in plastic freezer bags for frying at a later time – you can store these in the fridge for about a week or in the freezer for about 3 months. Mine never last that long there.
Place a piece of parchment or even wax paper in the plastic freezer bag. Place as many breaded eggplant slices as you can in a single layer, without any overlaps or touching. Place another piece of paper and keep on stacking. I can usually make three layers of eggplant per bag. Store in fridge or freezer flat so the eggplants retain their shape.
- Fry away to eat immediately – following we’ll show you plating and serving ideas for this
- Fry away to eat in another dish tomorrow – I’ll share this in a later post we’ll call Eggplant Gratin…
Just take a small skillet with about ¼ inch of canola oil. Bring to temperature for frying, which I usually measure by inserting the end of a wooden spoon in the oil and making sure there are bubbles around the spoon.
Place a few slices of eggplant in and fry a few minutes on both sides until golden. These eggplants are sliced so thin you don’t need to cook them for a long time. If you fry them until they’re light brown, usually they’re be too cooked on the inside. So err on the side of caution and not let it go too far.
Take them out of the oil and place them onto a plate covered with paper towels to absorb all the excess oil. Allow them to cool off a bit before serving.
I love serving these next to a nice garden salad with a few wedges of lime, or even a yellow lemon. I learned to eat empanadas with lime or criollo lemons and to me they cut a bit some of the greasiness of the frying. These are crispy, crunchy and kind of creamy inside. They’re awesome…