Nothing too special, the eggplant beignets. Another very traditional side dish or tapa with a different twist in every Spanish household. It’s difficult that they are exceptional rather than just good though. And one of the key factors is the eggplant quality without a doubt. The ones I get around my neighborhood are mediocre, to say the least. Some times they are not ripe, while others are absolutely insipid. Maybe the only way to get excellent eggplants is to grow them yourself, at least in the vicinity of huge cities, like where I live…
Rather a depressing opening for a post, isn’t it? I think I should plant some vegetables in my garden. The problem is that I have a slipped disk and that prevents me from much garden work. Besides some laziness too… okay, I admit it. But let’s stop beating around the bush: I loooove eggplant beignets, I find them one of the most wonderful side dishes or tapas one can serve. Hot straight from the pan, fried in a perfectly clean olive oil, they are excellent. I remember to have eaten some of the tastiest eggplant beignets in my life in a small village hotel at Sierra Mágina, a beautiful massif covered with neverending olive groves in Andalusia, where we were treated like kings. They were cut into sticks, instead of sliced in rounds like mine, wonderfully crispy and drizzled with sugar cane syrup, like they’re served all around Andalusia. I recall we stuffed ourselves that evening and we laughed our heads off with the children. The happiness effect of good food.
This is how my mother makes them. And imagine I wouldn’t even hear of them when I was a child… you can miss really good things out of stubbornness:
Serves 2 or 3 as a side dish
- 1 large eggplant or 2 small ones
- All-purpose flour or chickpea flour, for coating
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- Virgin olive oil for frying
- Slice the eggplant in approximately 1cm thick slices. Place them in layers on a colander. Salt the slices in a layer thoroughly before placing the next layer on top. Leave them to rest for one hour so that they release their bitter juices.
- Pat them dry with a paper towel and rid them of all the juice (after an hour they’ll be covered in little drops of juice).
- Pour olive oil in a large frying pan, at least 2cm deep (believe it or not, the more oil you use, the less oily the beignets will be). Heat it to medium-high.
- Coat the slices of eggplant in flour and then bathe them in the beaten egg. Fry them in batches.
- When golden, take them out to a large dish lined with paper towel, so that part of the oil is soaked. It’s better to lay the slices in one layer till they’re all done, because they get a bit soggy when left to cool one on top of the other. They should be crispy, more or less. Serve them immediately, while warm.