Fried Green Tomatoes
My grandmother (the Australian one) spends six months of the year up north in Queensland; on the Sunshine Coast, with the rest of the senior citizens expat community from Melbourne. It's our version of Florida up there! The rest of the time, when it is too humid and sticky, she comes back down here and reclaims her Victorian identity (i.e. the all-black wardrobe and eating dinner inside the house).
When she's in Victoria she lives about an hour outside Melbourne in a valley at the start of the Australian Alps. It's a gorgeous area, poetically called Flowerdale, and I have such fond memories of spending school holidays there as a child; riding my bike along dirt roads to the goat farm next door; having sausage-sizzle picnics on the sandy beach next to the cold, alpine creek; curling up on the sheepskin rug in front of the open fire in winter; sneaking reads of her Jackie Collins adults novels which she hid from the grandkiddes in the workshed; standing in awe at her bulgingly stocked walk-in pantry; and having my first baking lessons - together we'd create all kinds of biscuits, slices and cakes to present to my brother and assorted visitors for dinner. I'm sure it wasn't every night, but it felt like I was always asking to bake something. I remember her often saying "yes, you can - but you'll have to eat anything you create afterwards!"
A few days ago she packed up the house again, for her six-month sojourn as a Queenslander (they speak slower up there you know ;-). Probably all the sun), and she gathered up the contents of her vegetable garden for me. She turned up on my birthday with a bag full of green capsicums, a glossy purple eggplant, wincingly sour little apples which fit in the palm of my hand, and lots and lots of green tomatoes still on their vines, which didn't have a chance to ripen before she left.
I wasn't sure what to with these tomatoes. I've heard that green tomato relish is supposed to be good, but I'm not really in a preserving mood - with all the equipment and faffing about that requires - and anyway, I really don't like relishes and chutneys. But, what I've also heard about are fried green tomatoes. How could I not when there's a Hollywood film of the same name?! I've always been intrigued how something made of unripe vegetables could taste any good at all, so I tried it today at lunch.
I did a Google search and looked at a few recipes before deciding on the one below. I decided to use my Japanese panko breadcrumbs rather than the normal fine, dry cardboardy ones because.....well....I bought these panko things a while ago and keep forgetting to use them! I wanted to see why everyone is raving about panko, so I'd combine these two tasks. I'm lucky in that we have an inbuilt Gaggenau deep fryer in the kitchen, so choosing to make deep-fried tidbits on the spur of the moment isn't the big military-style endeavour it is for many other people - that's not to say we use it every day! Deep-fried food is still an occasional indulgence.
These turned out really, really tasty. The spoonful of brown sugar mixed with the flour added the sweetness the green tomatos hadn't yet had the chance to develop with ripeness. I added some grated parmesan to the panko crumbs to add a bigger flavour, which was a good idea. The slices cooked quickly and tasted wonderful; they were crispy, golden, crunchy and had a great sweet/savoury flavour. Sprinkled with some Maldon salt flakes they were yummy, yummy, yummy! The only problem is that this used up only a third of my green tomatoes. Any ideas of what I can do with the rest??
Read on for the recipe:
Favourite Fried Green Tomatoes
Note - the method here is for shallow frying in a pan. I decided it would be less hassle, and quicker to use our deep-fryer.
4 to 6 green tomatoes
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup seasoned, dry bread crumbs
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon Vegetable oil
Slice tomatoes 1/2-inch thick. Combine flour and sugar on a shallow plate. Dip both sides of each tomato slice in the mixture. Combine egg and milk. Dip each tomato slice in this mixture, then in bread crumbs. Heat butter and oil on medium-high heat in skillet. Fry tomatoes until brown on both sides, but firm enough to hold their shape.