crispy eggplant with honey and lime

 
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did you grow up eating eggplants? i didn't either.

it wasn’t until i started dating a chinese guy in college where i started noticing eggplant cropping up at dinners, mainly through soy garlic braises. i neither favored nor craved this dish because who likes a mushy vegetables? if his parents offered me more, i'd politely say: boo-yaaaow (chinese for no thanks, please don’t give me any, i don’t want it).

then came one fateful night in barcelona when an eggplant and i became besties. it was my second time paying amy a visit, and by that time, she had become a professional at ordering non-paella and non-patatas bravas items. as soon as we got seated at tapeo, she took a minute to bond with the menu and then went straight for gold, “bam, bam, bam – i'd like one of this, and two of that”. she looked up at the waiter and deferred him to us for the wine selection.

every single dish that came out was spectacular, but there was one that i will never forget. the star of the dish was (you guessed it) eggplant, and my heart was captivated. it was crispy, sticky, juicy, hot, tender at the bite, savory, and bright. everything i never knew i wanted in an eggplant. i begged the waiter for the recipe and he didn’t go into much detail besides providing the basic ingredients and saying something like “it’s really easy”.

k. since i have never cooked an eggplant in my life, i had to learn and acquaint myself with how this vegetable wanted to be prepared. it took a few tries to get the eggplant recipe down to my liking, and i think i’m pretty much going to cook eggplant this way until i die...or unless someone can beat this recipe. until then, it’s me and these crispy eggplants with honey and lime 4 lyfe.  

xo, christine

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crispy eggplant with honey and lime

ingredients

1 small eggplant

1 tablespoon kosher salt

3/4 cup flour

1 cup panko

1 cup milk

1/2 cup olive oil

1 lime

2 tablespoon honey

notes

  1. wash, pat dry, and cut eggplant into disks

  2. sprinkle eggplant disks with salt and pat onto both sides.

  3. set aside in a bowl for 30 minutes. this process is going to remove moisture from the eggplant to help them crisp up in the oven. this was the first time in my life that i saw an eggplant sweat, was v v delighted

  4. preheat oven to 400 degrees

  5. line a baking tray with parchment paper and pour oil into a small bowl

  6. place flour and panko on separate plates. pour milk into a deep bowl. prep an assembly line with flour, then milk, then panko, then baking tray

  7. wipe eggplant sweat off. dice eggplant into 1 inch cubes

  8. toss eggplant into flour, dunk into milk, coat evenly with panko, and place on baking tray.

  9. brush or drizzle olive oil on top of eggplant, place in oven for 7-10 minutes or until golden brown.

  10. remove from oven, drizzle honey over eggplant bits, top with lime zest, and enjoy while hot!

 

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