It was a busy Sunday morning here, with a lot of dashing around, so we were grateful that Caitlyn thought to prepare us a 'Southern' brunch.
We have had a bumper crop of green zebra tomatoes this year. Caitlyn selected the larger and firmer ones from the vine as they need to hold together.
As a Brit, of a certain age, the phrase 'Fried Green Tomatoes' is indelibly linked to 'at the Whistlestop Cafe', the UK title of the 1991 film, starring Jessica Tandy and Kathy Bates, based on Fannie Flagg's bestselling novel.
Tomatoes, with little surface moisture when cut, are the key. Green Zebra and Spear's Tennessee Green are good varieties. The greenish salad tomatoes sold in Italy and Spain are also perfect. Red ripened tomatoes will disintegrate and may cause the oil to splutter.
The thickness is your choice. Thinner slices ½cm\1⁄5-inch produce crispy rounds with a short concentrated burst of tomato flavour. Thicker rounds 1cm\3⁄8-inch will have more tomato flavour and less crunch. Both are good but I must confess a preference for the thinner variety.
Make sure your oil is up to temperature before frying and fry in small batches to avoid cooling the oil too much; a cook's thermometer takes the guess work out of this.
For a good 'mise en place' or setup have the Cornmeal\Polenta nearest the frying oil, then the egg bath followed by the flour and lastly the tomatoes.
Ingredients (serves 4)
For the tomatoes
- 4 large or 8 medium green tomatoes
- 250g\8oz\1 cup Cornmeal\Polenta or dried breadcrumbs
- 125g\4oz\½ cup plain\all-purpose flour
- 2 eggs, beaten
- Salt & Pepper
- Oil for frying
Classic Remoulade Sauce
- 125ml\4 fl oz\½ cup good mayonnaise
- 2 teaspoons of mixed fresh herbs (parsley, tarragon and chervil)
- 1 teaspoons of capers
- 1 small anchovy fillet, finely chopped or a couple of drops anchovy essence
- 1 small pickle or 1-2 cornichons, sliced thinly
- Salt & pepper
Louisiana Remoulade Sauce
- 125ml\4 oz\½ cup good mayonnaise
- 1½ tablespoons tomato ketchup
- 2 flat teaspoons of mustard
- ½ teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce
- A dash of Tabasco sauce
- Parsley, couple of sprigs
- Spring\Salad Onions, small bunch, finely chopped
- Stalk of celery, finely chopped
- Salt, pepper & Cayenne pepper
Tools of the Trade
- You can shallow or deep fry the tomato slices
- A wok makes an excellent deep fryer, but must be used with a wok burner or stand to ensure stability
- A good pair of tongs
- A basket with a supply of paper towels to drain any excess oil
For both sauces simply beat all but the seasoning ingredients together. Let them stand while you prepare the tomatoes, then season to taste.
For the tomatoes
Preheat the oven to 130°C\250°F\Gas Mark ½ to keep the tomatoes batches warm when frying.
Place the flour and cornmeal on dinner plates; season the flour with salt and pepper. For the egg bath place the beaten egg into a shallow bowl between the plates.
Trim a thin slice from the top and bottom of the tomatoes to remove the skin. Cut the remaining tomatoes in slices, see Tips above.
Heat the oil to 190°C\375°F. If you are not using a thermometer, have a slice of day old bread, broken up into large crumbs handy. Test the temperature of the oil with the crumbs. The oil is ready when the breadcrums starts to sizzle immediately.
One at a time, dip both sides of a tomato slice in seasoned flour, dip in the egg bath, cover both sides with the cornmeal and carefully place in the hot oil. Repeat with the next slice until you have three or four slices frying together. Fry until the tomato floats and the batter is a light golden brown (3-4 minutes).
If you are shallow frying, you may need to turn the slices to ensure that they are browned on both sides.
Drain the fried tomato slices on paper towels and place in the oven to keep warm. Repeat until all of the tomatoes are done.
Substitute a small pinch of red pepper flakes in place of the black pepper when seasoning the tomatoes for a spicier flavour.
A peeled, finely sliced cucumber salad, with a mustardy vinaigrette makes an excellent cool contrast.