I’m usually incredibly skeptical of making fries out of anything other than potatoes.
Potatoes are just so good, so cheap, and so easy that I don’t usually see a reason to do anything different.
So, I’ll be honest. I thought for sure that eggplant fries, which won last week’s poll, were going to be a debacle. Eggplants are notorious for being a bit tricky to work with. After all, it’s basically like cooking a big sponge.
I had no idea how this would end up, but they worked out being very good. My main concern was that they wouldn’t be crispy on the outside (how do you crisp up a sponge after all?), but no worries there. These crisped up beautifully and had a really soft and flavorful interior.
Turns out eggplants make some pretty solid fries!
Yield: Serves 4.
2 large eggplants, cut into matchsticks and soaked in ice water
2 Cups rice flour (no substitutes)
1 lemon, zest + 1 Tablespoon juice
2 Tablespoons paprika
1 Tablespoon garlic powder
1 Tablespoon kosher salt
1 Tablespoon sesame seeds (opt.)
2 quarts oil, for frying
2 Cups yogurt
2 Tablespoons fresh mint, diced
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
Deep Fry Thermometer
1) Cut off ends of each eggplant and cut them into matchsticks.
2) Submerge eggplant fries for 2 hours in ice cold water. You might need to weigh them down for something.
3) Mix rice flour with other spices.
4) Mix dipping sauce if you're using it.
5) Set up frying station and heat oil to 350 degrees.
6) When ready to fry, take a handful of fries out of water and move to rice flour mixture. Coat lightly on each side.
7) Move immediately to fryer and fry for 4-5 minutes.
8) Remove fries and let drain for a minute on a paper towel. Serve immediately!
Adapted from a Bon Appetit Recipe.
The Eggplant Situation
Eggplants can be kind of intimidating. They are large and just kind of unwieldy.
They also have some strange properties. They are spongy and oxidize quickly. They can also be a bit bitter.
So, sometimes people get discouraged with them I think. They require some basic knowledge to prepare and it’s easy to end up with a dish that’s just so-so.
But these fries are surprisingly easy to prepare actually.
Start by chopping off the ends of the eggplant and then cut them into matchsticks. You could make these any size you want I guess, but I went for a large french fry size.
The key step to making these fries work is to soak them in cold water for about two hours before you try to fry them.
This is an important step. It keeps them from oxidizing, it washes out some of the bitterness from the eggplant, and it also lets the eggplant soak up some of the water which is a good thing for this recipe.
The eggplant fries will actually float in a bowl of water, so feel free to use a plate or something to keep them submerged.
So, dice up the eggplant, soak them, and then forget about them for a few hours.
These fries were great on their own, but the original recipe recommended a dipping sauce so I figured I would make one. I didn’t have all the ingredients for the original so I just mixed up one with yogurt, mint, and lemon. It was delicious and the mint went perfectly with the eggplant!
This recipe is pretty flexible except for one ingredient: Rice flour.
It’s a very finely ground flour that sticks in a light coat to the eggplant and gives it an incredibly crispy crust. It’s really awesome and I don’t think you could substitute it and get good results. You should be able to find rice flour in most grocery stores these days.
As far as what you season your flour with, you can kind of go crazy. The original recipe called for seasoning it with za’atar, but I didn’t have any so I just used some other seasonings. It worked great.
Frying the Fries
When you’re ready to fry, heat up your frying station. As always, I recommend using a deep fry thermometer for these guys. You’ll want to heat your oil to between 325 and 350 degrees.
When your oil is hot, remove a few handfuls of fries from the water and toss them in the rice flour mixture!
Toss them around a bit to get a light coating on each fry and then gently add them straight into the fryer!
These fries will need to fry for about 4-5 minutes.
They should turn golden brown and be really crispy.
I was blown away at how good these turned out.
You’ll want to let them cool for a minute before biting into them. The center of the fry is really creamy and delicious though. Not bitter at all.
These were really good!
Betsy and I weren’t really in the mood for fried food on the particular day that we made these (the struggles of a food blogger), but once we had one, we proceeded to eat all of them.