Recently on KK I mentioned the phenomenon of the food that you always order in a restaurant but never make yourself. For me, this is most definitely true of eggplant. I love it in all its forms, from eggplant parm to baba ganoush, and always order it when possible. In fact, I would confidently say that fried eggplant is truly the best falafel/shawarma add-in, and that it is criminally underrated in this regard. Making eggplant this way seemed simple enough, so I decided to finally go for it. And I decided that the perfect twist on this vegetable would be Old Bay, because anywhere that offers falafel or shawarma with all the fix-ins is unlikely to have Old Bay. At least, that was true last I checked. Aaron Wildavksy may have brought some to Israel by now.
- 1 eggplant
- Olive oil
- Old Bay
- Lemon juice
- Slice the eggplant hamburger-wise (people still say that, right?).
- Sprinkle the eggplant with salt, and place it in a colander to drain for 30 minutes. Food science digression: what’s the point of this? Well, eggplant is an extremely watery food, and it would end up quite soggy if it was cooked in its natural state. Applying salt to the surface of the eggplant takes advantage of the chemical process of osmosis, by which the salt on the outside and the water on the inside “trade places” in order to maximize the number of microstates in the universe. Yes this is the same osmosis as Osmosis Jones. Only (late) 90s kids will understand.
- Run cold water over the eggplant, then pat it dry.
- Add olive oil (more than you would normally add) to a pan over medium high-heat.
- Add the eggplant slices to the pan. You’ll notice that the eggplant will absorb the oil pretty rapidly by seeing a darkening of color.
- Once this absorption has occurred, add a bit more olive oil to pan in order to crisp up the outsides of the eggplant slices. Let the eggplant sauté for about 4 minutes on each side.
- While the eggplant is sautéing, mix some lemon juice, Old Bay, and parsley in a small bowl.
- Allow the eggplant to cool for 1 minute, then drizzle this sauce overtop.
Why this recipe is good for college students:
- This recipe has barely any ingredients and is very simple to prepare. Additionally, there is a large, non-awkward amount of downtime while the eggplant is draining, during which productive things can be done!
Why this recipe is good for those who keep Kosher:
- This recipe is totally parve, so it can be enjoyed as a side with any meal!
What I would do differently if I made this recipe again:
- If I were making this recipe again, I would honestly drain the eggplant for longer. Drawing out more water would lead to a quicker absorption of oil, which would create crispier and less soggy outsides due to the decrease of oil present in the pan. Additionally, in an attempt to infuse more flavor, I would add some of the sauce to the pan during sautéing, as this liquid flavor would hopefully get absorbed along with the oil.