As far as vegetables go, eggplants are not my favorite. However, while browsing the Pacific Ocean Market in Broomfield yesterday, I came across an irresistible pile of a tiny, rich purple variety. They winked at me like teardrop jewels and I was convinced. Into the basket they went with the noodles, fish sauce, and beef bones.
The trick with eggplant is to make sure there is a textural contrast in the recipe. Their taste and looks are beautiful, but when cooked, they can get a little mushy. This recipe pairs a perfect crisp, light batter with a very thin sliced eggplant, making the overall effect a delight. The coating provides airy crunch, and the inside becomes luscious and creamy. Dipped in a basil ginger soy sauce, these make a great snack with satisfying salt and an exotic flair. Hop up during the commercials (or the game, if your priorities differ) tomorrow and offer them as an inspired snack. They are best served fresh from the hot oil.
Eggplant Tempura Chips
- 6 mini eggplants, about 3 inches long, sliced thin
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup beer
- 2 tbsp potato starch
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 6 cups clean vegetable oil for deep frying
Place your sliced eggplant in a bowl in layers, salting liberally between each layer and over the top. Let sit 1/2 hour. While you are waiting, put a deep pan of the oil over heat. Mix together the flour, beer, ginger, and starch into a smooth batter.
When the oil has reached 360 degrees, (or a drop of the batter produces a wild fizz,) batter several coins of eggplant and carefully lower them into the hot oil. Cook them for 35 to 45 seconds, then scoop them out with a strainer. Cook the rest of the eggplant and serve warm with basil ginger soy sauce.
The eggplants for this recipe can be found at the Pacific Ocean Market in Broomfield, and potato starch can be found in the health food aisle of any local supermarket. Look for the Bob's Red Mill brand.