Fried Eggplant With Tomato and Garlic and Pepper Salsa

As Salaamu Alaikum.  Wow, I haven’t used this blog in a LOOOONG time.  I love to cook and bake, but with the frantic pace of my life this last year I haven’t had time to write things down.  Oh, yeah, I can snap a few pictures and post it to my Facebook, but write out a recipe?  Maybe after the last kid is in school and we start wearing disposable clothes!  But I did make fried eggplant last night and people on my FB are asking for the recpie, so as long as I’m procrastinating from doing real work I may as well procrastinate productively!  So here it is:

Fried eggplant.  For this recipe you will need one large purple eggplant, two beefsteak tomatoes, three cloves of garlic, and one jalapeno pepper.  In addition, you will need some salt and vinegar, plus oil for frying.  And if you don’t have good pita bread to eat this with, run out and get some real quick!

First you cut the ends off the eggplant and then peel it:

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Then you cut the eggplants. You can simply slice them into rounds about 1/8″ of an inch thick, or slice the eggplant longways first.  I slice the eggplant longways and make smaller half-circle pieces because I can fit more into the frying pan at one time that way:

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Next, I lay the pieces flat on my cutting board or counter and I sprinkle them liberally with salt on both sides.  This step is needed because larger eggplants can be bitter and this draws out the bitter liquid.  Then I place them into a colander to drain.  You can leave the colander in the sink or set it in a bowl to catch the liquid, which will be discarded unless you want to play a really mean prank on someone:

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While they are draining, you can prepare the salsa.  Dice up two beefsteak tomatoes.  Peel and thinly slice three cloves of garlic.  Dice up one jalapeno pepper (you crazy heat lovers can use a spicier pepper if you are brave).  These are all going to get tossed together into the pan later so you can put them all in one bowl – go ahead, they won’t mind:

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Now you need to rinse the excess salt off the eggplant slices.  Do this under running water, then rinse out the colander and put the rinsed pieces back into the colander to drain.  If you have one of those salad spinners you can use it to spin off the excess moisture.  After you do this, you will need to lay the pieces on a dry tea towel or on good paper towel to blot any remaining moisture.  You want them to be as dry as possible because water + hot oil is NOT a good combination:

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Now get a large shallow pan and fill it with about 1/4″ of vegetable oil suitable for frying.  Don’t use your olive oil on this.  Olive oil has a lower smoke point so it will not work well in high heat frying applications.  Heat the oil to about high medium.  It should take about five minutes a side to fry; if it takes too long, it will absorb too much oil.  Too fast, and you have not so delicious charcoal briquets:

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Fry the eggplants on both sides until golden brown. They should be a bit darker around the edges but not dark like the edges all the way through – unless you like them that way!  You might like yours a bit more well done, but remember if they go too long – charcoal!  And charcoal is not a good flavor.  I’m just sayin’.  Remove them to paper towel to drain.  After they are drained, put them on a nice plate for presentation:

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Okay, now for the salsa.  Tip almost all of the oil out of the pan, using great care because it is very hot.  Put the pan back on the heat, and then dump in the tomatoes, garlic, and peppers.  Sautee for about a minute or two on high heat until it starts to soften, stirring often, then add about 1/4 cup of vinegar.  I like apple cider vinegar.  Be careful not to breath in the vapors because  you WILL start coughing if you do, especially if you used spicier peppers (voice of experience here).  Continue to sautee and stir for another minute or so until the mixture has no free liquid splashing about and has thickened a bit, then simply layer it overtop the eggplant.  That’s it, you’re done!  Now take that really good pita bread you bought (or made, using my old recipe here) and tear off a piece to use as a scoop.  Scoop up a small portion of the eggplant with salsa and say Bismillah, then pop it into your mouth and sigh happily.  Well, that’s what I did, anyway :).

In the real world, one eggplant makes enough for two to four people.  Two if you are normal, four if you are trying to be polite and not steal the plate and run off and eat it all by yourself.  I would recommend that you don’t make this more than once a month – eggplants (and tomatoes, for that matter) are members of the nightshade family of plants and should be enjoyed in moderation.

Bil hana wa shifaa!

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