Archive for September 19th, 2023

Diary #690

Fried green tomatoes came into being as a way to use tomatoes that had not yet fully ripened by the end of summer.  As you can probably guess, this makes them more common in the Upper South, because in the Deep South the growing season is both very warm and continues into early autumn.  I never even heard of them until my twenties, and since I’ve never grown my own tomatoes before I’ve never had enough tomatoes around to experiment.  So it’s only recently that I perfected my recipe, and I’m happy to share it with y’all if you’d like to try it yourself; this is for about 3-4 average size tomatoes (fewer if they’re huge).  First, you want to pick tomatoes that are just starting to turn yellow; deep-green tomatoes not only have some growing left to do, but are too bitter to eat.  Use a very sharp knife and cut slices about 1/4″ (6-7 mm) thick; a lot of recipes call for two or even three times as thick, which makes them too gooshy on the inside.  The frying works best in a deep fryer; shallow pans do not sear the outside as quickly, resulting in a greasier, soggier product.  While the oil is preheating, dip each slice in flour, then beaten egg, then the breadcrumb mixture, turning to coat both sides at each step; I like to coat all the pieces before frying any, so I’m not distracted while frying.  For the breadcrumb mixture, thoroughly combine 1/4 cup (60 ml) of plain breadcrumbs with 1/4 cup (60 ml) cornmeal, 2 tsp (10 ml) sugar, 2 tsp (10 ml) salt, 1 tsp (5 ml) paprika, and 1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) cayenne.  Don’t be surprised at the amount of salt; it and the sugar are there to balance the acidity of the tomatoes, and the fried tomatoes will not be noticeably salty.  Fry the slices in the preheated oil, about four slices at a time (don’t crowd the fryer), for 3-4 minutes; you want to flip them over with a slotted metal spoon about halfway through.  Remove them with the slotted spoon when they’re golden brown; since tomatoes can be eaten raw all you’re really doing is getting the outside nice and crispy.  Drain on paper towels.  I like to serve them with remoulade sauce for dipping; I’m pretty sure you can get it at most large grocery stores even outside of Louisiana, but if not you can make a reasonable fascimile by combining 8 parts mayonaisse with 1 part each ketchup, Dijon mustard, and pickle relish and seasoning the mixture with salt, pepper, tarragon, granulated garlic, and parsley.  Anyway, that’s it; some people like them so much they use all their tomatoes before they get ripe!  But don’t try this with ripe tomatoes; they are too soft and too moist, and the result will be a mess rather than a tasty side-dish or snack.

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