We pulled our tomato plants just before the killing frost last week and although we simply threw most of them onto our long-term compost pile, we hesitated over the remains of our heirloom plants. We decided to pick out the rest of those tomatoes, both green and red. Michael said, “How about fried green tomatoes?” “Yuck,” I said, without missing a beat. Then I reconsidered.
Every year we leave bowls of tomatoes sitting around our kitchen, ripening or rotting, depending on how much attention we remember to pay to them. So why not divert a few for this classic southern dish, or at least our ill-informed northeastern version of it? We had some fried green tomatoes in Atlanta last year when we were visiting our son and, while never replacing potatoes in my heart, they weren’t bad. So we plucked out a few small green heirloom tomatoes and added a couple of under-ripe somewhat red plum tomatoes for good measure and proceeded on to a new culinary exploration.
Traditionally fried green tomatoes are made from larger tomatoes, like a beefsteak or big boy variety, but since I don’t grow those I was stuck with my little green tomatoes. I simply cut off the stems and halved the tomatoes, not ideal since the batter doesn’t stick well to the shiny end surface. The most important thing is that the tomatoes cannot be ripe or they will turn to mush. I think if I were to do this again, I would only use green tomatoes, the red ones were just a little too sweet. The point of this dish is fried and sour. Paired with a creamy dipping sauce, it is a real pleasure. I included a recipe for the dipping sauce I made, but I think a straight aioli would also be good. In fact, almost anything is good if you eat it with aioli.
Fried pickles next?
RECIPE: Fried Green Tomatoes
- Four medium green tomatoes, or a dozen smaller ones
- Flour for dredging
- 1 cup panko
- 1/2 cup corn meal
- 1 tablespoon Cajun or Mexican seasoning
- Two eggs
- Salt and pepper
- ¼ cup peanut oil
Slice the tomatoes into ½ inch slices. Sprinkle them with salt and let sit for 30 minutes (this will make them crisper). After half an hour, dredge them in flour.
In a small bowl mix together panko, corn meal, seasoning, paprika, and some pepper or even cayenne if you like hot food.
In a separate bowl beat two eggs. You can add a little milk or buttermilk if you like.
Heat a cast iron or nonstick pan over a medium high flame, add the oil.
Dip each tomato slice in egg, then the panko mixture. Place in hot oil.
Do not crowd the tomato slices in the pan. Cook for around four or five minutes, then turn over and cook the other side. They should be a deep golden brown.
Eat hot with dipping sauce.
RECIPE: Remoulade Dipping Sauce
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar or pickle juice
- 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
- 1 tablespoon mustard
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- Tabasco sauce to taste
- Salt and pepper
Thin the mayonnaise with the vinegar then stir in the other ingredients. Let it sit for at least half an hour to marry the flavors. Refrigerate if not being eaten immediately. Spoon on top of fried green tomatoes, or dip the tomatoes into a bowl of the sauce before eating.