Bon Appetit calls them "Eggplant Fries," but they are not greasy at all, full of eggplant flavor, and super-crunchy, so I think they are more aptly named "Crunchy Eggplant Sticks"!
- 1 eggplant (1 lb), cut crosswise into 1/2" rounds, then cut into 1/2" strips (any variety)
- Canola oil (at least 1 Qt. for frying)
- 1 cup rice flour
- 2 Tb. grated lemon zest
- 1 Tb. garlic powder
- 1 tsp. sea salt
- * Generally, I don't use precise measurements when I cook, so I just added enough rice flour to create a good base in the bowl I chose to use, and then added the lemon zest, garlic powder, and salt roughly proportionately. I don't really believe in measurements, unless I am baking =)
- Place cut eggplant into a bowl. (You can use a variety of eggplant - I used regular eggplant, italian eggplant, graffiti eggplants - they all taste great!). See this link on selecting eggplants at the market: http://wintersong.wordpress.com/2008/07/10/choosing-the-best-eggplant-boy-or-girl/
- Add enough ice to cover the surface of the eggplant (approx. 2 cups) and enough water to cover the ice. Place a plate on the eggplant and ice, so that the eggplant is submerged in the ice bath. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. This step ensures that your Crispy Eggplant Sticks are "grease-free" - the eggplant will soak up the water, instead of the oil!
- Heat enough oil (at least 1.5 inches deep) in a pot to 325 degrees (you can use a deep-fry or "candy" thermometer if you want to be precise).
- Whisk the rice flour, lemon zest, garlic powder, sea salt, (and za'atar, if you choose to use it - I didn't! See note below).
- Drain eggplant and toss damp pieces in the rice flour mixture to coat.
- Working in batches, add eggplant to hot oil, frying until golden brown, approximately 5 minutes per batch. (Note that adding the "iced" eggplant will decrease the temperature of the oil, so make sure to bring the oil temperature back up to approximately 325, and continue to cook and stir until golden brown).
I bought a fry thermometer specifically for this recipe (I have fried successfully in the past without one!), and although it was helpful, I think I could have made the same product without a fancy thermometer. Just use the "look test" - when it looks "done" and golden brown - it's done!!!
The original Bon Appetit recipe (August 2011) calls for the use of za'atar in the flour mixture that coats the eggplant. The recipe also has a dipping sauce using yogurt, which I omitted, since I am trying not to eat dairy. I never tasted and never missed the sauce!!!
Recipe is courtesy of: Bon Appetit, August 2011